Active Nematocyst Isolation Via Nudibranchs
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.
KeywordsNematocyst Sea anemone Nudibranch Venom Natural products
This work was supported in part by the Tel-Aviv University Fund for Applied Research and partly by the Raynor Chair for Environmental Conservation Research (to YL). We would like to thank R. Goldshmid for her meticulous care of the sea anemone and nudibranch cultures and H. Ohana and Y. Moas from the School of Marine Sciences for their assistance with the seawater systems. We would also like to thank C. Downs from the University of Hawaii for his helpful advice. All experiments undertaken within this study comply with the current laws of Israel, the country in which they were performed.
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