Genetic analysis reveals secrets of scorpion venom

Jul 01, 2009

Transcriptomic tests have uncovered the protein composition of venom from the Scorpiops jendeki scorpion. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Genomics have carried out the first ever venom analysis in this arachnid, and discovered nine novel poison molecules, never before seen in any scorpion species.

Yibao Ma worked with a team of researchers from Wuhan University, China, to study the sting of S. jendeki, a member of the family Euscorpiidae, which covers Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. He said, "Our work greatly expands the current knowledge of scorpion venoms. We found ten known types and nine novel venom peptides and proteins. These molecules provide a rich, hitherto-unexplored resource for drug development as well as clues into the evolution of the scorpion venom arsenal".

To humans, the sting of scorpions from the Euscorpiidae family tend to be quite mild - about as painful as a mosquito bite. S. jendeki venom has never been studied before. The researchers found that it contains ten known poisons, with markedly diverse modes of action and nine new types of venom peptide, whose biological effects are yet to be determined. The scorpion itself, however, is considered harmless - probably because it cannot deliver enough of the poison to cause any damage to a healthy human. Interestingly, neurotoxins, which are major poisons in the venom of another scorpion species that can kill humans, were not found in the S. jendeki venom.

Ma concludes, "Many types of venom peptides and proteins have been obtained from diverse scorpion species. Some are widely distributed among scorpions from different families, while others, like some of those discovered in our study, appear to be restricted to particular scorpion lineages. The presence of these common and uncommon venom molecules among different lineages reflects the dynamic evolutionary process of the scorpion venom arsenal".

More information: Transcriptome analysis of the venom gland of the scorpion Scorpiops jendeki: implication for the evolution of the venom arsenal, Yibao Ma, Ruiming Zhao, Yawen He, Songryong Li, Jun Liu, Yingliang Wu, Zhijian Cao and Wenxin Li, BMC Genomics (in press), http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcgenomics/

Source: BioMed Central (news : web)

Explore further: Breakthrough in coccidiosis research

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Radioactive scorpion venom for fighting cancer

Jun 27, 2006

Health physicists are establishing safe procedures for a promising experimental brain-cancer therapy which uses a radioactive version of a protein found in scorpion venom. For many, this will conjure images of Spiderman's ...

Early mammal could bite like a snake

Jun 22, 2005

A small mammal that lived around 60 million years ago had poisonous fangs that enabled it to bite like a snake, the first time that an extinct mammal species has been found with this capacity, a new study says.

Tarantula venom and chili peppers target same pain sensor

Nov 08, 2006

Venom from a West Indian tarantula has been shown to cause pain by exciting the same nerve cells in mice that sense high temperatures and the hot, spicy ingredient in chili peppers, UCSF scientists have discovered.

Recommended for you

Breakthrough in coccidiosis research

4 hours ago

Biological researchers at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are a step closer to finding a new cost-effective vaccine for the intestinal disease, coccidiosis, which can have devastating effects on poultry ...

Vietnam's taste for cat leaves pets in peril

8 hours ago

The enduring popularity of "little tiger" as a snack to accompany a beer in Vietnam means that cat owners live in constant fear of animal snatchers, despite an official ban.

New species of mayfly discovered in India

10 hours ago

Scientists have discovered a new species of mayfly in the southern Western Ghats, a mountain range along the west coast of India. In fact, this is the first time that any mayfly belonging to the genus Labiobaetis has be ...

User comments : 0