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Special Issue "Neurotoxic Effects of Animal Venoms: Molecular Mechanisms and Prevention"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Toxicology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Yuri Utkin
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Shemyakin-Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
Interests: nicotinic acetylcholine receptor; venoms; snake; scorpion; animal toxins

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In the process of evolution, some animals have developed the ability to produce venoms for defense and hunting. In hunting, the main task of the venom is to efficiently immobilize prey. The easiest way to do this is by disrupting the function of the nervous system. Therefore, the nervous system is one of the main targets for venoms. Animal venoms contain components that affect various stages of nerve impulse transduction, including the release of the neurotransmitter, its interaction with the receptor, signal transmission in the nerve fiber, and other stages. Some mechanisms of neurotoxic action are well described, such as the interaction of snake postsynaptic neurotoxins with nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. However, even in this case, not all the details of the interaction have been elucidated. Other mechanisms are not as clear and require more detailed study, such as the effect of presynaptic neurotoxins on the release of a neurotransmitter. Currently, the standard treatment for animal envenoming is antivenom therapy. However, a huge number of neurotoxins are small proteins (e.g., snake alpha-neurotoxins) or peptides (e.g., alpha-conotoxins), which creates problems in obtaining anti-serum. In this Special Issue, we plan to consider the structures of new neurotoxins and their biological targets, the mechanisms of interaction of neurotoxins with targets, possible ways to prevent the neurotoxic effects of animal venoms, and the molecular mechanisms of such anti-neurotoxic effects. Original articles, reviews, comments, etc. on various aspects of the neurotoxic effects of animal venoms are invited.

Dr. Yuri Utkin
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Molecular Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. There is an Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal. For details about the APC please see here. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • animal venoms
  • neurotoxins
  • structure
  • biological targets
  • molecular mechanisms
  • anti-serum

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Assessing the Binding of Venoms from Aquatic Elapids to the Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor Orthosteric Site of Different Prey Models
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(19), 7377; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijms21197377 - 06 Oct 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 633
The evolution of an aquatic lifestyle from land dwelling venomous elapids is a radical ecological modification, bringing about many evolutionary changes from morphology to diet. Diet is an important ecological facet which can play a key role in regulating functional traits such as [...] Read more.
The evolution of an aquatic lifestyle from land dwelling venomous elapids is a radical ecological modification, bringing about many evolutionary changes from morphology to diet. Diet is an important ecological facet which can play a key role in regulating functional traits such as venom composition and prey-specific targeting of venom. In addition to predating upon novel prey (e.g., fish, fish eggs and invertebrates), the venoms of aquatic elapids also face the challenge of increased prey-escape potential in the aquatic environment. Thus, despite the independent radiation into an aquatic niche on four separate occasions, the venoms of aquatic elapids are evolving under convergent selection pressures. Utilising a biolayer interferometry binding assay, this study set out to elucidate whether crude venoms from representative aquatic elapids were target-specific to the orthosteric site of postsynaptic nicotinic acetylcholine receptor mimotopes of fish compared to other terrestrial prey types. Representatives of the four aquatic lineages were: aquatic coral snakes representative was Micrurus surinamensis;, sea kraits representative was Laticauda colubrina; sea snakes representatives were two Aipysurus spp. and eight Hydrophis spp; and water cobras representative was Naja annulata. No prey-specific differences in crude venom binding were observed from any species tested, except for Aipysurus laevis, which showed slight evidence of prey-potency differences. For Hydrophis caerulescens, H. peronii, H. schistosus and M. surinamensis, there was a lack of binding to the orthosteric site of any target lineage. Subsequent testing on the in vitro chick-biventer cervicis muscle preparation suggested that, while the venoms of these species bound postsynaptically, they bound to allosteric sites rather than orthosteric. Allosteric binding is potentially a weaker but faster-acting form of neurotoxicity and we hypothesise that the switch to allosteric binding is likely due to selection pressures related to prey-escape potential. This research has potentially opened up the possibility of a new functional class of toxins which have never been assessed previously while shedding light on the selection pressures shaping venom evolution. Full article
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