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Convergent Evolution of Pain-Inducing Defensive Venom Components in Spitting Cobras

Kazandjian, Taline ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5383-0505, Robinson, SD, van Thiel, J, Greene, HW, Arbuckle, K, Barlow, A, Carter, DA, Wouters, RM, Whiteley, G, Wagstaff, Simon ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0577-5537, Arias, AS, Albulescu, Laura-Oana, Plettenberg Laing, A, Hall, C, Heap, A, Penrhyn-Lowe, S, McCabe, CV, Ainsworth, Stuart ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0199-6482, da Silva, RR, Dorrestein, PC, Richardson, MK, Gutiérrez, JM, Calvete, JJ, Harrison, Robert, Vetter, I, Undheim, EAB, Wuster, W and Casewell, Nicholas ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8035-4719 (2021) 'Convergent Evolution of Pain-Inducing Defensive Venom Components in Spitting Cobras'. Science, Vol 371, Issue 6527, pp. 386-390.

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Abstract

Convergent evolution provides insights into the selective drivers underlying evolutionary change. Snake venoms, with a direct genetic basis and clearly defined functional phenotype, provide a model system for exploring the repeated evolution of adaptations. While snakes use venom primarily for predation, and venom composition often reflects diet specificity, three lineages of cobras have independently evolved the ability to spit venom at adversaries. Using gene, protein and functional analyses, we show that the three spitting lineages possess venoms characterized by an upregulation of PLA2 toxins, which potentiate the action of pre-existing venom cytotoxins to activate mammalian sensory neurons and cause enhanced pain. These repeated independent changes provide a fascinating example of convergent evolution across multiple phenotypic levels driven by selection for defense.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: QW Microbiology and Immunology > Antigens and Antibodies. Toxins and Antitoxins > QW 630 Toxins. Antitoxins
WD Disorders of Systemic, Metabolic or Environmental Origin, etc > Animal Poisons > WD 410 Reptiles
Faculty: Department: Biological Sciences > Department of Tropical Disease Biology
Digital Object Identifer (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abb9303
Depositing User: Mary Creegan
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2021 11:47
Last Modified: 22 Jan 2021 11:48
URI: https://archive.lstmed.ac.uk/id/eprint/16372

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