, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 441-444
Date: 30 Jan 2009

Active Nematocyst Isolation Via Nudibranchs

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Cnidarian venoms are potentially valuable tools for biomedical research and drug development. They are contained within nematocysts, the stinging organelles of cnidarians. Several methods exist for the isolation of nematocysts from cnidarian tissues; most are tedious and target nematocysts from specific tissues. We have discovered that the isolated active nematocyst complement (cnidome) of several sea anemone (Cnidaria: Anthozoa) species is readily accessible. These nematocysts are isolated, concentrated, and released to the aqueous environment as a by-product of aeolid nudibranch Spurilla neapolitana cultures. S. neapolitana feed on venomous sea anemones laden with stinging nematocysts. The ingested stinging organelles of several sea anemone species are effectively excreted in the nudibranch feces. We succeeded in purifying the active organelles and inducing their discharge. Thus, our current study presents the attractive possibility of using nudibranchs to produce nematocysts for the investigation of novel marine compounds.