, Volume 62, Issue 22, pp 2679-2693
Date: 02 Nov 2005

Identification and analysis of venom gland-specific genes from the coastal taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus) and related species

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Australian terrestrial elapid snakes contain amongst the most potently toxic venoms known. However, despite the well-documented clinical effects of snake bite, little research has focussed on individual venom components at the molecular level. To further characterise the components of Australian elapid venoms, a complementary (cDNA) microarray was produced from the venom gland of the coastal taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus) and subsequently screened for venom gland-specific transcripts. A number of putative toxin genes were identified, including neurotoxins, phospholipases, a pseudechetoxin-like gene, a venom natriuretic peptide and a nerve growth factor together with other genes involved in cellular maintenance. Venom gland-specific components also included a calglandulin-like protein implicated in the secretion of toxins from the gland into the venom. These toxin transcripts were subsequently identified in seven other related snake species, producing a detailed comparative analysis at the cDNA and protein levels. This study represents the most detailed description to date of the cloning and characterisation of different genes associated with envenomation from Australian snakes.

Received 16 August 2005; received after revision 21 September 2005; accepted 28 September 2005