Molecular Evolution of Snake Toxins: Is the Functional Diversity of Snake Toxins Associated with a Mechanism of Accelerated Evolution?

M. Ohno, R. Ménez, T. Ogawa, J. M. Danse, Y. Shimohigashi, C. Fromen, F. Ducancel, S. Zinn-Justin, M. H. Le Du, J. C. Boulain, T. Tamiya, A. Ménez

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

176 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Recent studies revealed that animal toxins with unrelated biological functions often possess a similar architecture. To tentatively understand the evolutionary mechanisms that may govern this principle of functional prodigality associated with a structural economy, two complementary approaches were considered. One of them consisted of investigating the rates of mutations that occur in cDNAs and/or genes that encode a variety of toxins with the same fold. This approach was largely adopted with phospholipases A2 from Viperidae and to a lesser extent with three-fingered toxins from Elapidae and Hydrophiidae. Another approach consisted of investigating how a given fold can accommodate distinct functional topographies. Thus, a number of topologies by which three-fingered toxins exert distinct functions were investigated either by making chemical modifications and/or mutational analyses or by studying the three-dimensional structure of toxin-target complexes. This review shows that, although the two approaches are different, they commonly indicate that most if not all the surface of a snake toxin fold undergoes natural engineering, which may be associated with an accelerated rate of evolution. The biochemical process by which this phenomenon occurs remains unknown.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProgress in Nucleic Acid Research and Molecular Biology
Pages307-364
Number of pages58
EditionC
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1997 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameProgress in Nucleic Acid Research and Molecular Biology
NumberC
Volume59
ISSN (Print)0079-6603

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology

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