Next Article in Journal
A Severe Accident Caused by an Ocellate River Stingray (Potamotrygon motoro) in Central Brazil: How Well Do We Really Understand Stingray Venom Chemistry, Envenomation, and Therapeutics?
Next Article in Special Issue
Development of Plate Reader and On-Line Microfluidic Screening to Identify Ligands of the 5-Hydroxytryptamine Binding Protein in Venoms
Previous Article in Journal
Novel Treatment of Chronic Bladder Pain Syndrome and Other Pelvic Pain Disorders by OnabotulinumtoxinA Injection
Previous Article in Special Issue
Bioinformatics-Aided Venomics
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessReview
Toxins 2015, 7(6), 2251-2271;

Ancient Venom Systems: A Review on Cnidaria Toxins

Venom Evolution Lab, School of Biological Sciences, the University of Queensland, St. Lucia 4072, QLD, Australia
Institute for Molecular Bioscience, the University of Queensland, St. Lucia 4072, QLD, Australia
Pacific Cnidaria Research Lab, Department of Tropical Medicine, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
Department of Pathology, University of Turku, Turku FIN-20520, Finland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Jean-Marc Sabatier
Received: 12 May 2015 / Revised: 9 June 2015 / Accepted: 10 June 2015 / Published: 18 June 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Selected Papers from the 5th Venoms to Drugs Meeting)
Full-Text   |   PDF [398 KB, uploaded 18 June 2015]   |  


Cnidarians are the oldest extant lineage of venomous animals. Despite their simple anatomy, they are capable of subduing or repelling prey and predator species that are far more complex and recently evolved. Utilizing specialized penetrating nematocysts, cnidarians inject the nematocyst content or “venom” that initiates toxic and immunological reactions in the envenomated organism. These venoms contain enzymes, potent pore forming toxins, and neurotoxins. Enzymes include lipolytic and proteolytic proteins that catabolize prey tissues. Cnidarian pore forming toxins self-assemble to form robust membrane pores that can cause cell death via osmotic lysis. Neurotoxins exhibit rapid ion channel specific activities. In addition, certain cnidarian venoms contain or induce the release of host vasodilatory biogenic amines such as serotonin, histamine, bunodosine and caissarone accelerating the pathogenic effects of other venom enzymes and porins. The cnidarian attacking/defending mechanism is fast and efficient, and massive envenomation of humans may result in death, in some cases within a few minutes to an hour after sting. The complexity of venom components represents a unique therapeutic challenge and probably reflects the ancient evolutionary history of the cnidarian venom system. Thus, they are invaluable as a therapeutic target for sting treatment or as lead compounds for drug design. View Full-Text
Keywords: cnidarians; venom; enzymes; pore forming toxins; neurotoxins; vasodilatory biogenic amines; human envenomation cnidarians; venom; enzymes; pore forming toxins; neurotoxins; vasodilatory biogenic amines; human envenomation

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Jouiaei, M.; Yanagihara, A.A.; Madio, B.; Nevalainen, T.J.; Alewood, P.F.; Fry, B.G. Ancient Venom Systems: A Review on Cnidaria Toxins. Toxins 2015, 7, 2251-2271.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Toxins EISSN 2072-6651 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top