Structure-Function Relationship in Heterodimeric Neurotoxin PLA2s from Viperidae Snakes Inhabiting Europe, South America, and Asia

Functional Importance of the Nontoxic Components
  • Dessislava Georgieva
  • Raghuvir K. Arni
  • Christian Betzel
Reference work entry
Part of the Toxinology book series (TOXI)


Snake venom heterodimeric non-covalent phospholipase A2 (PLA2) complexes (ncHdPLA2s) are neurotoxins encountered in the venoms of Viperinae and Crotalinae snakes. In contrast to their monomeric counterparts, they have a sophisticated mechanism of action in order to avoid nonspecific binding to “wrong” targets and to increase the efficiency of the pharmacological attack. ncHdPLA2s consist of a toxic and enzymatically active basic PLA2 and an acidic and catalytically inactive PLA2 protein. The main function of the acidic subunit is to direct the toxic component to the “correct” targets on the cell membrane and in this way to avoid binding to phospholipids, which are not important for the pharmacological effect of the toxin. The nontoxic component of ncHdPLA2s is multifunctional. It can modulate the toxicity and catalytic activity of PLA2.

The structure and function of ncHdPLA2s from the venoms of snakes inhabiting Europe, South America, and Asia are similar. There exists a high identity at the levels of primary and three-dimensional structures of ncHdPLA2s from snakes inhabiting widely separated regions of the world. Although a substantial progress has been made during the last years in understanding the structure and biological action of ncHdPLA2s, a number of questions still remain to be answered.


Snake Venom Presynaptic Membrane Basic Subunit Acidic Subunit PLA2 Component 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dessislava Georgieva
    • 1
  • Raghuvir K. Arni
    • 2
  • Christian Betzel
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Laboratory of Structural Biology of Infection and InflammationUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Physics, Multi User Center for Biomolecular Innovation, Institute of Biosciences, Humanities and Physical SciencesIBILCE/UNESP (Universidade Estadual Paulista)São José do Rio PretoBrazil

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