Genetics

Venom Genetics

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Science  22 Nov 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6161, pp. 911
DOI: 10.1126/science.342.6161.911-c
CREDIT: B. M. VON REUMONT ET AL., MOLECULAR BIOLOGY AND EVOLUTION 30, 11 (16 OCTOBER 2013) © OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS ON BEHALF OF THE SOCIETY FOR MOLECULAR BIOLOGY AND EVOLUTION

Two papers describ e the use of genomics in identifying genes encoding venom components in arthropods. Cao et al. sequenced the scorpion (Mesobuthus martensii) genome and identified 116 neurotoxin genes specific to the scorpion lineage; von Reumont et al. profiled the transcriptome of the remipede (Speleonectes tulumensis), which is a blind crustacean that inhabits underwater caves. Both species were found to contain toxins that probably target sodium channels. Additionally, the scorpion toxins affect chloride and potassium channels, whereas the remipede delivers peptidases and chitinases into its victims. A phylogenetic analysis of agatoxins, which are found in this remipede and in venomous spiders, suggests that the remipede neurotoxins evolved independently after gene duplication from a non–venom gland paralog. Similarly, tandem arrays of toxin genes were found in the scorpion, hinting at how gene duplication contributed to the genesis of toxin diversity.

Nat. Comm. 4, 10.1038/ncomms3602 (2013); Mol. Biol. Evol. 30, 10.1093/molbev/mst199 (2013).

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