Specialisation of the venom gland proteome in predatory cone snails reveals functional diversification of the conotoxin biosynthetic pathway

Helena Safavi-Hemami, William A Siero, Dhana G Gorasia, Neil David Young, David MacMillan, Nicholas Andrew Williamson, Anthony W. Purcell

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31 Citations (Scopus)


Conotoxins, venom peptides from marine cone snails, diversify rapidly as speciation occurs. It has been suggested that each species can synthesize between 1000 and 1900 different toxins with little to no interspecies overlap. Conotoxins exhibit an unprecedented degree of post-translational modifications, the most common one being the formation of disulfide bonds. Despite the great diversity of structurally complex peptides, little is known about the glandular proteins responsible for their biosynthesis and maturation. Here, proteomic interrogations on the Conus venom gland led to the identification of novel glandular proteins of potential importance for toxin synthesis and secretion. A total of 161 and 157 proteins and protein isoforms were identified in the venom glands of Conus novaehollandiae and Conus victoriae, respectively. Interspecies differences in the venom gland proteomes were apparent. A large proportion of the proteins identified function in protein/peptide translation, folding, and protection events. Most intriguingly, however, we demonstrate the presence of a multitude of isoforms of protein disulfide isomerase (PDI), the enzyme catalyzing the formation and isomerization of the native disulfide bond. Investigating whether different PDI isoforms interact with distinct toxin families will greatly advance our knowledge on the generation of cone snail toxins and disulfide-rich peptides in general.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3904-3919
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Proteome Research
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • cone snails
  • conotoxins
  • diversification
  • protein disulfide isomerase
  • protein/peptide folding
  • venom gland

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