Characterization of the venom from the Australian scorpion Urodacus yaschenkoi: molecular mass analysis of components, cDNA sequences and peptides with antimicrobial activity
The Urodacidae scorpions are the most widely distributed of the four families in Australia and represent half of the species in the continent, yet their venoms remain largely unstudied. This communication reports the first results of a proteome analysis of the venom of the scorpion Urodacus yaschenkoi performed by mass fingerprinting, after high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) separation. A total of 74 fractions were obtained by HPLC separation allowing the identification of approximately 274 different molecular masses with molecular weights varying from 287 to 43,437 Da. The most abundant peptides were those from 1 K Da and 4-5 K Da representing antimicrobial peptides and putative potassium channel toxins, respectively. Three such peptides were chemically synthesized and tested against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria showing minimum inhibitory concentration in the low micromolar range, but with moderate hemolytic activity. It also reports a transcriptome analysis of the venom glands of the same scorpion species, undertaken by constructing a cDNA library and conducting random sequencing screening of the transcripts. From the resultant cDNA library 172 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) were analyzed. These transcripts were further clustered into 120 unique sequences (23 contigs and 97 singlets). The identified putative proteins can be assorted in several groups, such as those implicated in common cellular processes, putative neurotoxins and antimicrobial peptides. The scorpion U. yaschenkoi is not known to be dangerous to humans and its venom contains peptides similar to those of Opisthacanthus cayaporum (antibacterial), Scorpio maurus palmatus (maurocalcin), Opistophthalmus carinatus (opistoporines) and Hadrurus gerstchi (scorpine-like molecules), amongst others.