Spider Transcriptomes from Venom Glands: Molecular Diversity of Ion Channel Toxins and Antimicrobial Peptide Transcripts
The technological transformations that expand our knowledge of molecular biology in the 1980s brought us various novel techniques and methods for gene isolation and characterization. Research groups from all over the world began publishing the first scientific reports concerning transcripts and genes of several spider species. Sophisticated techniques and methods for specific and random cDNA library screening and the discovery of several expressed sequence tags (ESTs) enabled transcriptome analysis, opening up new paths for investigation of poisonous and venomous animals and their venom components.
The transcriptomics allowed to report novel spider peptide toxin sequences, an important scientific advancement that arrived together with several new scientific protagonists interested in exploring novel venom compounds, such as proteomics. Even though the effort in the search and research of spider venom components, transcripts and genes, has been significant, it has been lower compared to the total number of molecules that is thought to be present in the spider venom glands according to a conservative estimate of >9 million bioactive peptides (ca. 45 thousand spider species with 200 components per venom).
This chapter addresses the transcriptome analysis in spider venom glands using Sanger and next-generation sequencing approaches. The emphasis is put on transcripts that encode for expressed peptide toxins, which affect ion channels and expressed peptide toxins, which act as antimicrobial agents. This manuscript aims to provide general information to strengthen the knowledge on the diversity of transcripts, gene families, and the research of expressed spider compounds derived from their venom glands.
KeywordsSpider gene Spider transcriptome Spider toxin Antimicrobial peptides ICK motif Kunitz-type toxin
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