Barghi N, Concepcion G.P., Olivera B.M., Lluisma A.O.


The venom of each species of Conus contains different kinds of pharmacologically active peptides which are mostly unique to that species. Collectively, the ~500-700 species of Conus produce a large number of these peptides, perhaps exceeding 140,000 different types in total. To date, however, only a small fraction of this diversity has been characterized via transcriptome sequencing. In addition, the sampling of this chemical diversity has not been uniform across the different lineages in the genus. In this study, we used high-throughput transcriptome sequencing approach to further investigate the diversity of Conus venom peptides. We chose a species, Conus tribblei,as a representative of a poorly studied clade of Conus. Using the Roche 454 and Illumina platforms, we discovered 136 unique and novel putative conopeptides belonging to 30 known gene superfamilies and 6 new conopeptide groups, the greatest diversity so far observed from a transcriptome. Most of the identified peptides exhibited divergence from the known conopeptides, and some contained cysteine frameworks observed for the first time in cone snails. In addition, several enzymes involved in posttranslational modification of conopeptides and also some proteins involved in efficient delivery of the conopeptides to prey were identified as well. Interestingly, a number of conopeptides highly similar to the conopeptides identified in a phylogenetically distant species, the generalist feeder Conus californicus, were observed. The high diversity of conopeptides and the presence of conopeptides similar to those in C. californicus suggest that C. tribblei may have a broad range of prey preferences.

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