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Open AccessArticle

A Transcriptomic Approach to the Recruitment of Venom Proteins in a Marine Annelid

Applied Molecular Biosciences Unit (UCIBIO), Departamento de Ciências da Vida, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2829-516 Caparica, Portugal
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Received: 10 December 2020 / Revised: 21 January 2021 / Accepted: 23 January 2021 / Published: 28 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Marine and Freshwater Toxins)
The growing number of known venomous marine invertebrates indicates that chemical warfare plays an important role in adapting to diversified ecological niches, even though it remains unclear how toxins fit into the evolutionary history of these animals. Our case study, the Polychaeta Eulalia sp., is an intertidal predator that secretes toxins. Whole-transcriptome sequencing revealed proteinaceous toxins secreted by cells in the proboscis and delivered by mucus. Toxins and accompanying enzymes promote permeabilization, coagulation impairment and the blocking of the neuromuscular activity of prey upon which the worm feeds by sucking pieces of live flesh. The main neurotoxins (“phyllotoxins”) were found to be cysteine-rich proteins, a class of substances ubiquitous among venomous animals. Some toxins were phylogenetically related to Polychaeta, Mollusca or more ancient groups, such as Cnidaria. Some toxins may have evolved from non-toxin homologs that were recruited without the reduction in molecular mass and increased specificity of other invertebrate toxins. By analyzing the phylogeny of toxin mixtures, we show that Polychaeta is uniquely positioned in the evolution of animal venoms. Indeed, the phylogenetic models of mixed or individual toxins do not follow the expected eumetazoan tree-of-life and highlight that the recruitment of gene products for a role in venom systems is complex. View Full-Text
Keywords: Annelida; marine environment; protein recruitment; selective pressure; toxins; whole-transcriptome sequencing Annelida; marine environment; protein recruitment; selective pressure; toxins; whole-transcriptome sequencing
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MDPI and ACS Style

Rodrigo, A.P.; Grosso, A.R.; Baptista, P.V.; Fernandes, A.R.; Costa, P.M. A Transcriptomic Approach to the Recruitment of Venom Proteins in a Marine Annelid. Toxins 2021, 13, 97. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020097

AMA Style

Rodrigo AP, Grosso AR, Baptista PV, Fernandes AR, Costa PM. A Transcriptomic Approach to the Recruitment of Venom Proteins in a Marine Annelid. Toxins. 2021; 13(2):97. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020097

Chicago/Turabian Style

Rodrigo, Ana P.; Grosso, Ana R.; Baptista, Pedro V.; Fernandes, Alexandra R.; Costa, Pedro M. 2021. "A Transcriptomic Approach to the Recruitment of Venom Proteins in a Marine Annelid" Toxins 13, no. 2: 97. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/toxins13020097

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