Small Packages, Big Returns: Uncovering the Venom Diversity of Small Invertebrate Conoidean Snails.

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Gorson J, Holford M,

Gorson J, Holford M, (click to view)

Gorson J, Holford M,

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Integrative and comparative biology 2016 7 1() pii


Venomous organisms used in research were historically chosen based on size and availability. This opportunity-driven strategy created a species bias in which snakes, scorpions, and spiders became the primary subjects of venom research. Increasing technological advancements have enabled interdisciplinary studies using genomics, transcriptomics, and proteomics to expand venom investigation to animals that produce small amounts of venom or lack traditional venom producing organs. One group of non-traditional venomous organisms that have benefitted from the rise of -omic technologies is the Conoideans. The Conoidean superfamily of venomous marine snails includes, the Terebridae, Turridae (s.l), and Conidae. Conoidea venom is used for both predation and defense, and therefore under strong selection pressures. The need for conoidean venom peptides to be potent and specific to their molecular targets has made them important tools for investigating cellular physiology and bioactive compounds that are beneficial to improving human health. A convincing case for the potential of Conoidean venom is made with the first commercially available conoidean venom peptide drug Ziconotide (Prialt®), an analgesic derived from Conus magus venom that is used to treat chronic pain in HIV and cancer patients. Investigation of conoidean venom using -omics technology provides significant insights into predator-driven diversification in biodiversity and identifies novel compounds for manipulating cellular communication, especially as it pertains to disease and disorders.

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