Navigation Links
Molding the business end of neurotoxins
Date:2/23/2012

San Diego, Calif. For snakes, spiders, and other venomous creatures, the "business end," or active part, of a toxin is the area on the surface of a protein that is most likely to undergo rapid evolution in response to environmental constraints, say researchers from Ben Gurion University in Israel. Understanding these evolutionary forces can help researchers predict which part of unstudied toxins will do damage, and may also aid in the design of novel synthetic proteins with tailored pharmaceutical properties. The team will present its results at the 56th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society, held Feb. 25-29 in San Diego, Calif.

Scientists have long suspected that evolutionary pressures encouraging diversity could play a role in shaping how a toxin works; if such forces were in play, toxins could rapidly evolve within a single species or change quickly from species to species, supporting predators and prey in the "arms race" that keeps them in competition. Still, it was not clear whether the same rules dictate neurotoxin evolution between animals from different phyla (that is, that have very little genetically in common with each other), or whether there were different rules in play for different organisms.

Using the published gene sequences for dozens of different toxins from various species of poisonous scorpions, spiders, and snakes, the Ben Gurion researchers studied toxins that target a variety of ion channels and receptors. They performed their analysis on individual codons, areas of the genetic sequence that code for a single amino acid, which allowed the team to hypothesize about the evolutionary pathways of individual building blocks of the proteins.

In the venoms of all the species they studied, as well as among all the different toxin families, the researchers found a clear correlation between the active parts of the toxins and the parts that evolve most rapidly. In addition, they determined that the non-active surfaces of the molecules which tend to contribute to a toxin's structural stability experience the opposite type of evolutionary force, preventing these surfaces from changing greatly from generation to generation. This makes sense from a fitness perspective, since mutations that significantly change the structure of a toxin run a greater risk of damaging the toxin's efficacy.

"We were pleased to learn how nicely the data fit our initial hypothesis, and how broad this phenomenon is," says Noam Zilberberg, Ben Gurion University microbiologist and lead author of the study. "Our approach should help in locating novel interaction sites between as-yet unstudied toxins and their targets."

The work supports the so-called "Red Queen's hypothesis," which states that constant change is needed for organisms to maintain fitness in a competitive environment. As a next step, the team would like to refine their results by expanding the dataset to include more toxins.

The presentation, "Molding the business end of neurotoxins by diversifying evolution," is at 1:45 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012, in the San Diego Convention Center, Hall FGH. ABSTRACT: http://tinyurl.com/7a6zrk4


'/>"/>

Contact: Ellen R. Weiss
eweiss@biophysics.org
240-290-5606
American Institute of Physics
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. SAFRAN to Acquire Motorolas Biometrics Business
2. Entrepreneurs wanted for NJIT workshops about how to launch a business
3. David Rose to present Howe School lecture on new technologies and business models, Jan. 29
4. A sticky business -- how cancer cells become more gloopy as they die
5. Recession Puts Focus on Business Optimisation and Excellence to Strengthen Business Core
6. In troubled economic times, BioSquare 2009 successfully serves as business and innovation starter
7. Business, scientific, higher education groups laud President Obamas commitment to science
8. Platforms in space to help businesses
9. No comfort in comfort foods during tough economic times, says Moore School of Business study
10. Verizon Business to Help Federal Agencies Manage Security Risk, Insider Threats
11. Verizon Business to Provide Global IP for Eurofins Scientific
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/26/2016)... DUBLIN , April 27, 2016 ... of the  "Global Multi-modal Biometrics Market 2016-2020"  report ... ) , The analysts forecast ... a CAGR of 15.49% during the period 2016-2020.  ... a number of sectors such as the healthcare, ...
(Date:4/15/2016)...  A new partnership announced today will help ... in a fraction of the time it takes ... life insurance policies to consumers without requiring inconvenient ... Diagnostics, rapid testing (A1C, Cotinine and HIV) and ... weight, pulse, BMI, and activity data) available at ...
(Date:4/14/2016)... , April 14, 2016 ... Malware Detection, today announced the appointment of Eyal ... new role. Goldwerger,s leadership appointment comes at ... heels of the deployment of its platform at several ... biometric technology, which discerns unique cognitive and physiological factors, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 Houston Methodist Willowbrook ... Cy-Fair Sports Association to serve as their official ... Houston Methodist Willowbrook will provide sponsorship support, athletic ... with association coaches, volunteers, athletes and families. ... Cy-Fair Sports Association and to bring Houston Methodist ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016   EpiBiome , a ... $1 million in debt financing from Silicon Valley Bank ... automation and to advance its drug development efforts, as ... facility. "SVB has been an incredible strategic ... services a traditional bank would provide," said Dr. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today announced ... of its complement C3 inhibitor, APL-2. The trials ... dose studies designed to assess the safety, tolerability, ... in healthy adult volunteers. Forty subjects ... single dose (ranging from 45 to 1,440mg) or ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ClinCapture, the only ... Center and will showcase its product’s latest features from June 26 to June ... scientific poster on Disrupting Clinical Trials in The Cloud during the conference. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: