Cnidarians are one of the oldest known animal lineages (ca. 700 million years), with a unique envenomation apparatus to deliver a potent mixture of peptides and proteins. Some peptide toxins from cnidarian venom have proven therapeutic potential. Here, we use a transcriptomic/proteomic strategy to identify sequences with similarity to known venom protein families in the tentacles of the endemic Australian ‘speckled anemone’ (Oulactis sp.). Illumina RNASeq data were assembled de novo. Annotated sequences in the library were verified by cross-referencing individuals’ transcriptomes or protein expression evidence from LC-MS/MS data. Sequences include pore-forming toxins, phospholipases, peptidases, neurotoxins (sodium and potassium channel modulators), cysteine-rich secretory proteins and defensins (antimicrobial peptides). Fewer than 4% of the sequences in the library occurred across the three individuals examined, demonstrating high sequence variability of an individual’s arsenal. We searched for actinoporins in Oulactis sp. to assess sequence similarity to the only described toxins (OR-A and -G) for this genus and examined the domain architecture of venom-related peptides and proteins. The novel putative actinoporin of Oulactis sp. has a greater similarity to other species in the Actiniidae family than to O. orientalis. Venom-related sequences have an architecture that occurs in single, repeat or multi-domain combinations of venom-related (e.g. ShK-like) and non-venom (e.g. whey acid protein) domains. This study has produced the first transcriptomes for an endemic Australian sea anemone species and the genus Oulactis, while identifying nearly 400 novel venom-related peptides and proteins for future structural and functional analyses and venom evolution studies.
- Sea anemone