skip to main content

Attention:

The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Thursday, June 13 until 2:00 AM ET on Friday, June 14 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Title: Ontogenetic Change in the Venom of Mexican Black-Tailed Rattlesnakes (Crotalus molossus nigrescens)
Ontogenetic changes in venom composition have important ecological implications due the relevance of venom in prey acquisition and defense. Additionally, intraspecific venom variation has direct medical consequences for the treatment of snakebite. However, ontogenetic changes are not well documented in most species. The Mexican Black-tailed Rattlesnake (Crotalus molossus nigrescens) is large-bodied and broadly distributed in Mexico. To document venom variation and test for ontogenetic changes in venom composition, we obtained venom samples from twenty-seven C. m. nigrescens with different total body lengths (TBL) from eight states in Mexico. The primary components in the venom were detected by reverse-phase HPLC, western blot, and mass spectrometry. In addition, we evaluated the biochemical (proteolytic, coagulant and fibrinogenolytic activities) and biological (LD50 and hemorrhagic activity) activities of the venoms. Finally, we tested for recognition and neutralization of Mexican antivenoms against venoms of juvenile and adult snakes. We detected clear ontogenetic venom variation in C. m. nigrescens. Venoms from younger snakes contained more crotamine-like myotoxins and snake venom serine proteinases than venoms from older snakes; however, an increase of snake venom metalloproteinases was detected in venoms of larger snakes. Venoms from juvenile snakes were, in general, more toxic and procoagulant than venoms from adults; however, adult venoms were more proteolytic. Most of the venoms analyzed were hemorrhagic. Importantly, Mexican antivenoms had difficulties recognizing low molecular mass proteins (<12 kDa) of venoms from both juvenile and adult snakes. The antivenoms did not neutralize the crotamine effect caused by the venom of juveniles. Thus, we suggest that Mexican antivenoms would have difficulty neutralizing some human envenomations and, therefore, it may be necessary improve the immunization mixture in Mexican antivenoms to account for low molecular mass proteins, like myotoxins.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1822417 1638879
NSF-PAR ID:
10207105
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Toxins
Volume:
10
Issue:
12
ISSN:
2072-6651
Page Range / eLocation ID:
501
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. The same selective forces that give rise to rapid inter- and intraspecific divergence in snake venoms can also favor differences in venoms across life-history stages. Ontogenetic changes in venom composition are well known and widespread in snakes but have not been investigated to the level of unambiguously identifying the specific loci involved. The eastern diamondback rattlesnake was previously shown to undergo an ontogenetic shift in venom composition at sexual maturity, and this shift accounted for more venom variation than geography. To characterize the genetics underlying the ontogenetic venom compositional change inC. adamanteus, we sequenced adult/juvenile pairs of venom-gland transcriptomes from five populations previously shown to have different adult venom compositions. We identified a total of 59 putative toxin transcripts for C. adamanteus, and 12 of these were involved in the ontogenetic change. Three toxins were downregulated, and nine were upregulated in adults relative to juveniles. Adults and juveniles expressed similar total levels of snake-venom metalloproteinases but differed substantially in their featured paralogs, and adults expressed higher levels of Bradykinin-potentiating and C-type natriuretic peptides, nerve growth factor, and specific paralogs of phospholipases A2and snake venom serine proteinases. Juvenile venom was more toxic to mice, indicating that the expression differences resulted in a phenotypically, and therefore potentially ecologically, significant difference in venom function. We also showed that adult and juvenile venom-gland transcriptomes for a species with known ontogenetic venom variation were equally effective at individually providing a full characterization of the venom genes of a species but that any particular individual was likely to lack several toxins in their transcriptome. A full characterization of a species’ venom-gene complement therefore requires sequencing more than one individual, although the ages of the individuals are unimportant.

     
    more » « less
  2. null (Ed.)
    Ontogenetic changes in venom composition have been described in Bothrops snakes, but only a few studies have attempted to identify the targeted paralogues or the molecular mechanisms involved in modifications of gene expression during ontogeny. In this study, we decoded B. jararacussu venom gland transcripts from six specimens of varying sizes and analyzed the variability in the composition of independent venom proteomes from 19 individuals. We identified 125 distinct putative toxin transcripts, and of these, 73 were detected in venom proteomes and only 10 were involved in the ontogenetic changes. Ontogenetic variability was linearly related to snake size and did not correspond to the maturation of the reproductive stage. Changes in the transcriptome were highly predictive of changes in the venom proteome. The basic myotoxic phospholipases A2 (PLA2s) were the most abundant components in larger snakes, while in venoms from smaller snakes, PIII-class SVMPs were the major components. The snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs) identified corresponded to novel sequences and conferred higher pro-coagulant and hemorrhagic functions to the venom of small snakes. The mechanisms modulating venom variability are predominantly related to transcriptional events and may consist of an advantage of higher hematotoxicity and more efficient predatory function in the venom from small snakes. 
    more » « less
  3. True, John (Ed.)
    Abstract Novel phenotypes are commonly associated with gene duplications and neofunctionalization, less documented are the cases of phenotypic maintenance through the recruitment of novel genes. Proteolysis is the primary toxic character of many snake venoms, and ADAM metalloproteinases, named snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs), are largely recognized as the major effectors of this phenotype. However, by investigating original transcriptomes from 58 species of advanced snakes (Caenophidia) across their phylogeny, we discovered that a different enzyme, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP), is actually the dominant venom component in three tribes (Tachymenini, Xenodontini, and Conophiini) of rear-fanged snakes (Dipsadidae). Proteomic and functional analyses of these venoms further indicate that MMPs are likely playing an “SVMP-like” function in the proteolytic phenotype. A detailed look into the venom-specific sequences revealed a new highly expressed MMP subtype, named snake venom MMP (svMMP), which originated independently on at least three occasions from an endogenous MMP-9. We further show that by losing ancillary noncatalytic domains present in its ancestors, svMMPs followed an evolutionary path toward a simplified structure during their expansion in the genomes, thus paralleling what has been proposed for the evolution of their Viperidae counterparts, the SVMPs. Moreover, we inferred an inverse relationship between the expression of svMMPs and SVMPs along the evolutionary history of Xenodontinae, pointing out that one type of enzyme may be substituting for the other, whereas the general (metallo)proteolytic phenotype is maintained. These results provide rare evidence on how relevant phenotypic traits can be optimized via natural selection on nonhomologous genes, yielding alternate biochemical components. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Changes in gene expression can rapidly influence adaptive traits in the early stages of lineage diversification. Venom is an adaptive trait comprised of numerous toxins used for prey capture and defense. Snake venoms can vary widely between conspecific populations, but the influence of lineage diversification on such compositional differences are unknown. To explore venom differentiation in the early stages of lineage diversification, we used RNA-seq and mass spectrometry to characterize Sidewinder Rattlesnake (Crotalus cerastes) venom. We generated the first venom-gland transcriptomes and complementary venom proteomes for eight individuals collected across the United States and tested for expression differences across life history traits and between subspecific, mitochondrial, and phylotranscriptomic hypotheses. Sidewinder venom was comprised primarily of hemorrhagic toxins, with few cases of differential expression attributable to life history or lineage hypotheses. However, phylotranscriptomic lineage comparisons more than doubled instances of significant expression differences compared to all other factors. Nevertheless, only 6.4% of toxins were differentially expressed overall, suggesting that shallow divergence has not led to major changes in Sidewinder venom composition. Our results demonstrate the need for consensus venom-gland transcriptomes based on multiple individuals and highlight the potential for discrepancies in differential expression between different phylogenetic hypotheses.

     
    more » « less
  5. Abstract Background The explosive radiation and diversification of the advanced snakes (superfamily Colubroidea) was associated with changes in all aspects of the shared venom system. Morphological changes included the partitioning of the mixed ancestral glands into two discrete glands devoted for production of venom or mucous respectively, as well as changes in the location, size and structural elements of the venom-delivering teeth. Evidence also exists for homology among venom gland toxins expressed across the advanced snakes. However, despite the evolutionary novelty of snake venoms, in-depth toxin molecular evolutionary history reconstructions have been mostly limited to those types present in only two front-fanged snake families, Elapidae and Viperidae. To have a broader understanding of toxins shared among extant snakes, here we first sequenced the transcriptomes of eight taxonomically diverse rear-fanged species and four key viperid species and analysed major toxin types shared across the advanced snakes. Results Transcriptomes were constructed for the following families and species: Colubridae - Helicops leopardinus , Heterodon nasicus , Rhabdophis subminiatus ; Homalopsidae – Homalopsis buccata ; Lamprophiidae - Malpolon monspessulanus , Psammophis schokari , Psammophis subtaeniatus , Rhamphiophis oxyrhynchus ; and Viperidae – Bitis atropos , Pseudocerastes urarachnoides , Tropidolaeumus subannulatus , Vipera transcaucasiana . These sequences were combined with those from available databases of other species in order to facilitate a robust reconstruction of the molecular evolutionary history of the key toxin classes present in the venom of the last common ancestor of the advanced snakes, and thus present across the full diversity of colubroid snake venoms. In addition to differential rates of evolution in toxin classes between the snake lineages, these analyses revealed multiple instances of previously unknown instances of structural and functional convergences. Structural convergences included: the evolution of new cysteines to form heteromeric complexes, such as within kunitz peptides (the beta-bungarotoxin trait evolving on at least two occasions) and within SVMP enzymes (the P-IIId trait evolving on at least three occasions); and the C-terminal tail evolving on two separate occasions within the C-type natriuretic peptides, to create structural and functional analogues of the ANP/BNP tailed condition. Also shown was that the de novo evolution of new post-translationally liberated toxin families within the natriuretic peptide gene propeptide region occurred on at least five occasions, with novel functions ranging from induction of hypotension to post-synaptic neurotoxicity. Functional convergences included the following: multiple occasions of SVMP neofunctionalised in procoagulant venoms into activators of the clotting factors prothrombin and Factor X; multiple instances in procoagulant venoms where kunitz peptides were neofunctionalised into inhibitors of the clot destroying enzyme plasmin, thereby prolonging the half-life of the clots formed by the clotting activating enzymatic toxins; and multiple occasions of kunitz peptides neofunctionalised into neurotoxins acting on presynaptic targets, including twice just within Bungarus venoms. Conclusions We found novel convergences in both structural and functional evolution of snake toxins. These results provide a detailed roadmap for future work to elucidate predator–prey evolutionary arms races, ascertain differential clinical pathologies, as well as documenting rich biodiscovery resources for lead compounds in the drug design and discovery pipeline. 
    more » « less