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First insights into the venom composition of two Ecuadorian coral snakes

Hernández-Altamirano, J. A., Salazar-Valenzuela, D., Medina-Villamizar, E. J., Quirola, D. R., Patel, K., Vaiyapuri, S. ORCID:, Lomonte, B. and Almeida, J. R. (2022) First insights into the venom composition of two Ecuadorian coral snakes. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 23 (23). 14686. ISSN 1422-0067

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To link to this item DOI: 10.3390/ijms232314686


Micrurus is a medically relevant genus of venomous snakes composed of 85 species. Bites caused by coral snakes are rare, but they are usually associated with very severe and life-threatening clinical manifestations. Ecuador is a highly biodiverse country with a complex natural environment, which is home to approximately 20% of identified Micrurus species. Additionally, it is on the list of Latin American countries with the highest number of snakebites. However, there is no local antivenom available against the Ecuadorian snake venoms and the biochemistry of these venoms has been poorly explored. Only a limited number of samples collected in the country from the Viperidae family were recently characterised. Therefore, this study addressed the compositional patterns of two coral snake venoms from Ecuador, M. helleri and M. mipartitus, using the venomics strategies, integrating sample fractionation, gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry. Chromatographic and electrophoretic profiles of these snake venoms revealed interspecific variability, which was ascertained by mass spectrometry. The two venoms followed the recently recognized dichotomic toxin expression trends displayed by Micrurus species: M. helleri venom contains a high proportion (72%) of phospholipase A2, whereas M. mipartitus venom is dominated by three-finger toxins (63%). A few additional protein families were also detected in these venoms. Overall, these results provide the first comprehensive views on the composition of two Ecuadorian coral snake venoms and expand the knowledge of Micrurus venom phenotypes. These findings open novel perspectives to further research the functional aspects of these biological cocktails of PLA2s and 3FTxs and stress the need for the preclinical evaluation of the currently used antivenoms for therapeutic purposes in Ecuador.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Biomedical Sciences
Life Sciences > School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy > School of Pharmacy > Division of Pharmacology
ID Code:109050


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