The molecular events underlying the evolution of the Snake Venom Metalloproteinase (SVMP) family from an A Disintegrin And Metalloproteinase (ADAM) ancestor remain poorly understood. Comparative genomics may provide decisive information to reconstruct the evolutionary history of this multi-locus toxin family. Here, we report the genomic organization of Echis ocellatus
genes encoding SVMPs from the PII and PI classes. Comparisons between them and between these genes and the genomic structures of Anolis carolinensis
ADAM28 and E. ocellatus
PIII-SVMP EOC00089 suggest that insertions and deletions of intronic regions played key roles along the evolutionary pathway that shaped the current diversity within the multi-locus SVMP gene family. In particular, our data suggest that emergence of EOC00028-like PI-SVMP from an ancestral PII(e/d)-type SVMP involved splicing site mutations that abolished both the 3′ splice AG acceptor site of intron 12* and the 5′ splice GT donor site of intron 13*, and resulted in the intronization of exon 13* and the consequent destruction of the structural integrity of the PII-SVMP characteristic disintegrin domain.
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