"Beyond Primary Sequence"-Proteomic Data Reveal Complex Toxins in Cnidarian Venoms

Adrian Jaimes-Becerra, Ranko Gacesa, Liam B. Doonan, Ashlie Hartigan, Antonio C. Marques, Beth Okamura, Paul F. Long*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Venomous animals can deploy toxins for both predation and defense. These dual functions of toxins might be expected to promote the evolution of new venoms and alteration of their composition. Cnidarians are the most ancient venomous animals but our present understanding of their venom diversity is compromised by poor taxon sampling. New proteomic data were therefore generated to characterize toxins in venoms of a staurozoan, a hydrozoan, and an anthozoan. We then used a novel clustering approach to compare venom diversity in cnidarians to other venomous animals. Comparison of the presence or absence of 32 toxin protein families indicated venom composition did not vary widely among the 11 cnidarian species studied. Unsupervised clustering of toxin peptide sequences suggested that toxin composition of cnidarian venoms is just as complex as that in many venomous bilaterians, including marine snakes. The adaptive significance of maintaining a complex and relatively invariant venom remains unclear. Future study of cnidarian venom diversity, venom variation with nematocyst types and in different body regions are required to better understand venom evolution.



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