Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 63, Issue 2, pp 183-193

First online:

Molecular Cloning of Echis ocellatus Disintegrins Reveals Non-Venom-Secreted Proteins and a Pathway for the Evolution of Ocellatusin

  • Paula JuárezAffiliated withInstituto de Biomedicina de Valencia, CSIC
  • , Simon C. WagstaffAffiliated withAlistair Reid Venom Research Unit, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
  • , Libia SanzAffiliated withInstituto de Biomedicina de Valencia, CSIC
  • , Robert A. HarrisonAffiliated withAlistair Reid Venom Research Unit, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
  • , Juan J. CalveteAffiliated withInstituto de Biomedicina de Valencia, CSIC Email author 

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We report the cloning and sequence analysis of Echis ocellatus cDNAs coding for dimeric disintegrin subunits and for the short disintegrin ocellatusin. All the dimeric disintegrin subunit messengers belong to the short-coding class, indicating that short messengers may be more widely distributed than previously thought. Mass spectrometric analysis of the HPLC-separated venom proteins was performed to characterize the dimeric disintegrins expressed in the venom proteome. In addition to previously reported EO4 and EO5 heterodimers, a novel dimeric disintegrin containing RGD- and KGD-bearing subunits was identified. However, a WGD-containing polypeptide encoded by clone Eo1-1 was not detected in the venom, suggesting the occurrence of larger genomic than proteomic diversity, which could represent part of a non-venom-secreted reservoir of disintegrin that may eventually acquire physiological relevance for the snake upon changes of ecological niches and prey habits. On the other hand, the realization of the existence of two distinct messengers coding for the short disintegrin ocellatusin reveals key events of the evolutionary emergence of the short disintegrin ocellatusin from a short-coding dimeric disintegrin precursor by two nucleotide mutations.


Snake venom Echis ocellatus cDNA cloning Disintegrin evolution Ocellatusin precursor