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Novel conopeptides of the I-superfamily occur in several clades of cone snails
Kauferstein, S.; Huys, I.; Kuch, U.; Melaun, C.; Tytgat, J.; Mebs, D. (2004). Novel conopeptides of the I-superfamily occur in several clades of cone snails. Toxicon 44(5): 539-548
In: Toxicon. Elsevier: Oxford. ISSN 0041-0101, more
Peer reviewed article  

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    Biological poisons; Conidae Fleming, 1822 [WoRMS]; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Kauferstein, S.
  • Huys, I.
  • Kuch, U.
  • Melaun, C.
  • Tytgat, J., more
  • Mebs, D.

    The I-superfamily of conotoxins represents a new class of peptides in the venom of some Conus species. These toxins are characterized by four disulfide bridges and inhibit or modify ion channels of nerve cells. When testing venoms from 11 Conus species for a functional characterization, blocking activity on potassium channels (like Kv1.1 and Kv1.3 channels, but not Kv1.2 channels) was detected in the venom of Conus capitaneus, Conus miles, Conus vexillum and Conus virgo. Analysis at the cDNA level of these venoms using primers designed according to the amino acid sequence of a potassium channel blocking toxin (ViTx) from C. virgo confirmed the presence of structurally homologous peptides in these venoms. Moreover, peptides belonging to the I-superfamily, but with divergent amino acid sequences, were found in Conus striatus and Conus imperialis. In all cases, the sequences of the precursors' prepro-regions exhibited high conservation, whereas the sequences of the mature peptides ranged from almost identical to highly divergent between species. We then performed phylogenetic analyses of new and published mitochondrial 16S rDNA sequences representing 104 haplotypes from these and numerous other Conus species, using Bayesian, maximum-likelihood, maximum-parsimony and neighbor-joining methods of inference. Cone snails known to possess I-superfamily toxins were assigned to five different major clades in all of the resulting gene trees. Moreover, I-superfamily conopeptides were detected both in vermivorous and piscivorous species of Conus, thus demonstrating the widespread presence of such toxins in this speciose genus beyond evolutionary and ecological groups.

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