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Evolution mystery: Spider venom and bacteria share same toxin

lug or cork at the end of a barrel-shaped enzyme--is evidence that the spider and bacterium share a relatively recent common ancestor," Cordes said. "Aside from being an example of lateral transfer between very distantly related organisms, this study is an unusual example of using structural motifs in proteins to answer questions about common ancestry when gene sequences are too different to be clear about these relationships."

"We're still left with the question of whether this venom enzyme hopped species from the spider to the bacteria, or the other way around. Either way, the presence of this medically-relevant toxin in one of these groups of organisms is likely the result of transfer from the other lineage," Binford said. "Understanding the importance of this structural motif in the toxic activity may help with developing treatments that minimize the effects of bites of brown recluse and their relatives. If this motif is central to protein function, treatments designed for the spider bites may also work for treating problems caused by the corynebacterial toxin," she added.


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Source:Lewis & Clark College


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