1. Conotoxin truncation as a post-translational modification to increase the pharmacological diversity within the milked venom of Conus magus
Clifford A Kapono, Parashar Thapa, Chino C Cabalteja, Daniela Guendisch, Abby C Collier, Jon-Paul Bingham Toxicon. 2013 Aug;70:170-8. doi: 10.1016/j.toxicon.2013.04.022. Epub 2013 May 11.
Milked venoms of Conus demonstrate direct lineage to US Food and Drug Administration approved and present in-trial drug leads. Yet the complexity of the milked venom has not been adequately investigated or characterized, in a sustainable manner. In this study we determine the extent of molecular mass differentiation in milked venom from captive Conus magus and confirm the expression of known conotoxin constituents. We demonstrate the presence of post-translational N-terminal peptide truncation, which differentiates the milked venom constituent α-conotoxin MI from the novel α-conotoxin MIC. This truncation has a direct effect on peptide bioactivity--K(i) of 89.1 ± 9.1 and 248.7 ± 10.9 nM (α-conotoxin MI and MIC respectively) toward the muscle-type nAChR (Torpedo). These milked venom conotoxins demonstrated acute lethality in fish, with a LD₅₀ of 12.24 and 23.29 μg kg⁻¹ for α-conotoxin MI and MIC respectively. By synthesizing and investigating the synthetic intermediate variant des[Gly]¹α-conotoxin MI, it was demonstrated that retention of the N-terminal arginine residue increased affinity at the muscle-type nAChR site (binding Ki of 73.3 ± 5.8 nM and lethal toxicity level LD50 of 8.19 μg kg⁻¹). This post-translational modification event within the milked venom of C. magus represents a unique mechanism by which cone snails are able to increase the chemical and pharmacological diversity of their venoms.
2. High accuracy mass spectrometry comparison of Conus bandanus and Conus marmoreus venoms from the South Central Coast of Vietnam
Bao Nguyen, Jordi Molgó, Hung Lamthanh, Evelyne Benoit, Thi An Khuc, Dang Nghia Ngo, Ngoc Thach Nguyen, Paul Millares, Jean-Pierre Le Caer Toxicon. 2013 Dec 1;75:148-59. doi: 10.1016/j.toxicon.2013.06.005. Epub 2013 Jun 21.
Cone snail (genus Conus) venoms provide a rich source of small bioactive peptides known as conopeptides or conotoxins, which are highly interesting in pharmacological studies for new drug discovery. Conus species have evolved expressing a variety of conopeptides, adapted to the biological targets of their own specific preys at their living environments. Therefore, the potential proteomic evaluation of Conus venom components, poorly studied, is of great interest. Early studies supposed about 5% overlap in venom peptides from different Conus species. In this study, we compare using nano-liquid chromatography coupled with electrospray ionisation-mass spectrometry and bioinformatics, the molluscivorous Conus bandanus venom to that of its close-relative Conus marmoreus of the South Central Coast of Vietnam. With this approach, we demonstrate with high precision that 92 common conopeptides are present in the venom of the two mollusc-hunting cone snails, representing 24.4% (out of 376 peptides) and 18.4% (out of 499 peptides) of C. bandanus and C. marmoreus components, respectively. The proteomic comparison of the two close-relative interspecies suggests both common and different strategies for mature conopeptide production in the two species. The overall estimation of putative conopeptide disulphide bridges reveals 75% and 61% of "disulphide-rich" peptides in C. bandanus and C. marmoreus venom components, respectively. The same amino acid sequence for Bn1.1 and Mr1.1, determined at the genomic level, was also found in the two venoms, besides other common conopeptides. Confidently, the broader distribution of C. bandanus compared to C. marmoreus guarantee new opportunities for discovering conopeptides with original pharmacological properties.
3. Cone snail milked venom dynamics--a quantitative study of Conus purpurascens
Joycelyn B S Chun, Margaret R Baker, Do H Kim, Majdouline Leroy, Priamo Toribo, Jon-Paul Bingham Toxicon. 2012 Jul;60(1):83-94. doi: 10.1016/j.toxicon.2012.03.019. Epub 2012 Apr 5.
Milked venom from cone snails represent a novel biological resource with a proven track record for drug discovery. To strengthen this correlation, we undertook a chromatographic and mass spectrometric study of individual milked venoms from Conus purpurascens. Milked venoms demonstrate extensive peptide differentiation amongst individual specimens and during captivity. Individual snails were found to lack a consistent set of described conopeptides, but instead demonstrated the ability to change venom expression, composition and post-translational modification incorporation; all variations contribute to an increase in chemical diversity and prey targeting strategies. Quantitative amino acid analysis revealed that milked venom peptides are expressed at ranges up to 3.51-121.01 μM within single milked venom samples. This provides for a 6.37-20,965 fold-excess of toxin to induce apparent IC₅₀ for individual conopeptides identified in this study. Comparative molecular mass analysis of duct venom, milked venom and radula tooth extracts from single C. purpurascens specimens demonstrated a level of peptide continuity. Numerous highly abundant and unique conopeptides remain to be characterized. This study strengthens the notion that approaches in conopeptide drug lead discovery programs will potentially benefit from a greater understanding of the toxinological nature of the milked venoms of Conus.