New approach for inspecting gene expression revolutionizes venom analysis


Scorpion species Heterometrus sp., additionally referred to as the Asian forest scorpion was used within the research. Credits: Arie van der Meijden. Credit: Arie van der Meijden

An worldwide staff of scientists has discovered an revolutionary, animal-friendly method for learning venom genes. The approach makes it attainable to find out the distinctive venom manufacturing of a variety of venomous animals which have scarcely, if in any respect, been studied.

A bunch of scientists from VU Amsterdam and the University of Porto, related to Naturalis Biodiversity Center and Leiden University, has succeeded to find the blueprints for proteins in scorpion venom. These blueprints mirror precisely which genes are energetic within the manufacturing of venom.

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The venom gland

The approach used is named transcriptomics. It is a technique wherein patterns of gene expression could be examined. This permits the researchers to look at which genes are energetic through the manufacturing of venom. What makes this method distinctive is that the approach has been efficiently utilized for the primary time on the precise venom as a substitute of on venom gland tissue. This signifies that animals not must be sacrificed to check the gene expression of the venom gland. The technique gives many new prospects for venom analysis.

Which genes are energetic?

“Thanks to this technique, we can very precisely see which genes are active at various moments during the venom production,” says Freek Vonk, professor on the VU and researcher at Naturalis. “This snapshot offers the very first possibility to study how various influences, such as nutrition, season, and age, influence the venom production in a single individual.”

This signifies that it’s now attainable to analyze which variations exist within the venom and which components can affect these variations. “Every venom contains tens to more than hundreds of different venomous substances, also called toxins, which are produced by the venom gland. After a bite or sting, these can have a toxic effect on various systems, such as the nerve endings or blood circulation,” explains Vonk.

The genes behind the venom: New technique revolutionizes venom research
Different strategies of venom manufacturing. Credit: Naturalis Biodiversity Center

Cell stays

“Venom is produced by venomous animals in different ways,” explains Mátyás Bittenbinder, venom knowledgeable and Ph.D. pupil at Naturalis and the VU. “Some animals, such as snakes and centipedes, have venom-producing cells that issue their venom to the storage space in the venom gland in small vesicles, which results in a relatively ‘clean’ venom. Other animals, such as scorpions, allow their venom gland cells to be ‘cut off’ in pieces or even completely disintegrate in the venom storage space and therefore produce a venom that contains many cell remains. Those cell remains contain the substances on which we can perform transcriptomics: mapping which genes are activated to produce which proteins,” continues Bittenbinder.

“The manner of venom production probably explains why the new technique does not work on snakes,” explains Arie van der Meijden. He is a researcher on the University of Porto and the inventor of the revolutionary method. “Conversely, the technique now makes it possible to study the venom variations in a large number of venomous animals that have scarcely ever, if at all, been studied, such as scorpions, fish, and even the platypus.”

Anatomy of the venom glands of a Heterometrus petersi. Credit: Arie van der Meijden

Better analysis into venom composition

Furthermore, the strategy is way simpler, purer, and extra particular than beforehand used methods for venom analysis. “As a result of this, we can do even better research into how animals produce venom. And that is particularly useful; the toxins in the venom are an important source for finding new, potential drugs, such as drugs to treat cardiovascular diseases,” emphasizes Van der Meijden.

The genes behind the venom: New technique revolutionizes venom research
Comparison outdated and new approach to check scorp venom. Credit: Naturalis Biodiversity Center

More data could be discovered within the article, “A non-lethal method for studying scorpion venom gland transcriptomes, with a review of potentially suitable taxa to which it can be applied,” revealed within the journal PLOS ONE.

Video: The chem-hiss-try of snake venom

More data:
A non-lethal technique for learning scorpion venom gland transcriptomes, with a evaluate of probably appropriate taxa to which it may be utilized, PLOS ONE (2021). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0258712

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Naturalis Biodiversity Center

New approach for inspecting gene expression revolutionizes venom analysis (2021, November 18)
retrieved 18 November 2021

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