Evolution of separate predation- and defence-evoked venoms in carnivorous cone snails

Dutertre, Sébastien, Jin, Ai-Hua, Vetter, Irina, Hamilton, Brett, Sunagar, Kartik, Lavergne, Vincent, Dutertre, Valentin, Fry, Bryan G., Antunes, Agostinho, Venter, Deon J., Alewood, Paul F. and Lewis, Richard J. (2014) Evolution of separate predation- and defence-evoked venoms in carnivorous cone snails. Nature Communications, 5 3521: 1-9. doi:10.1038/ncomms4521

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Author Dutertre, Sébastien
Jin, Ai-Hua
Vetter, Irina
Hamilton, Brett
Sunagar, Kartik
Lavergne, Vincent
Dutertre, Valentin
Fry, Bryan G.
Antunes, Agostinho
Venter, Deon J.
Alewood, Paul F.
Lewis, Richard J.
Title Evolution of separate predation- and defence-evoked venoms in carnivorous cone snails
Journal name Nature Communications   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 2041-1723
Publication date 2014-03-24
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1038/ncomms4521
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 5
Issue 3521
Start page 1
End page 9
Total pages 9
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Venomous animals are thought to inject the same combination of toxins for both predation and defence, presumably exploiting conserved target pharmacology across prey and predators. Remarkably, cone snails can rapidly switch between distinct venoms in response to predatory or defensive stimuli. Here, we show that the defence-evoked venom of Conus geographus contains high levels of paralytic toxins that potently block neuromuscular receptors, consistent with its lethal effects on humans. In contrast, C. geographus predation-evoked venom contains prey-specific toxins mostly inactive at human targets. Predation- and defence-evoked venoms originate from the distal and proximal regions of the venom duct, respectively, explaining how different stimuli can generate two distinct venoms. A specialized defensive envenomation strategy is widely evolved across worm, mollusk and fish-hunting cone snails. We propose that defensive toxins, originally evolved in ancestral worm-hunting cone snails to protect against cephalopod and fish predation, have been repurposed in predatory venoms to facilitate diversification to fish and mollusk diets.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

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Created: Thu, 10 Apr 2014, 20:34:30 EST by Susan Allen on behalf of Institute for Molecular Bioscience