Special Issue "Spider Venoms"
A special issue of Toxins (ISSN 2072-6651).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2010).
Interests: spider venom chemical diversity; mechanisms of venom evolution; phylogenetic patterns of venom diversity
Spider venoms are a treasure trove of chemical and pharmacological diversity. Over 41,000 described species of spiders have evolved from a common ancestor that lived at least 350 million years ago. Since that time, spider venoms have been evolving as predatory tools in the context of diversifying tactics of prey capture. The end products are thus extraordinarily refined cocktails comprising hundreds of toxins endowed with exquisite selectivity and affinity. As the size of these vast biochemical stores may be up to forty million components, they represent a truly phenomenal potential for discovery. Yet venoms of only a few scattered twigs on the spider family tree have been analyzed and less than 1500 toxins described. Even fewer have been well characterized but nevertheless show immense promise as drug leads for pathologies ranging from pain to erectile dysfunction. Modern methods for proteome and transcriptome analyses are exponentially increasing the pace of discovery. As we begin to explore divergent spider lineages we are improving understanding of patterns of toxin diversity and the evolutionary processes that have generated it, which will help guide exploration for novel pharmacology. For this special issue we invite contributions from spider venom researchers with foci on a broad range of spider toxin issues, and from an equally broad range of research approaches.
Prof. Dr. Greta J. Binford
Dr. Pierre Escoubas
- drug development