Toxin & peptide
Protease inhibitors have been reported rarely from the leech Hirudinaria manillensis. In this study, we purified a novel protease inhibitor (bdellin-HM-2) with anticoagulant properties from H. manillensis. With a molecular weight of 1.4x104, bdellin-HM-2 was also characterized with three intra-molecular disulfide bridges at the N-terminus and multiple HHXDD and HXDD motifs at the C-terminus. cDNA cloning revealed that the putative nucleotide-encoding protein of bdellin-HM-2 contained 132 amino acids and was encoded by a 399 bp open reading frame (ORF). Sequence alignment showed that bdellin-HM-2 shared similarity with the “non-classical” Kazal-type serine protease inhibitors, but had no inhibitory effect on trypsin, elastase, chymotrypsin, kallikrein, factor XIIa (FXIIa), factor XIa (FXIa), factor Xa (FXa), thrombin, or plasmin. Bdellin-HM-2 showed anticoagulant effects by prolonging the activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT), indicating a role in enabling H. manillensis to obtain a blood meal from its host. Our results suggest that bdellin-HM-2 may play a crucial role in blood-sucking in this leech species and may be a potential candidate for the development of clinical anti-thrombotic drugs.
Venom (toxins) is an important trait evolved along the evolutionary tree of animals. Our knowledges on venoms, such as their origins and loss, the biological relevance and the coevolutionary patterns with other organisms are greatly helpful in understanding many fundamental biological questions, i.e., the environmental adaptation and survival competition, the evolution shaped development and balance of venoms, and the sophisticated correlations among venom, immunity, body power, intelligence, their genetic basis, inherent association, as well as the cost-benefit and trade-offs of biological economy. Lethal animal envenomation can be found worldwide. However, from foe to friend, toxin studies have led lots of important discoveries and exciting avenues in deciphering and fighting human diseases, including the works awarded the Nobel Prize and lots of key clinic therapeutics. According to our survey, so far, only less than 0.1% of the toxins of the venomous animals in China have been explored. We emphasize on the similarities shared by venom and immune systems, as well as the studies of toxin knowledge-based physiological toxin-like proteins/peptides (TLPs). We propose the natural pairing hypothesis. Evolution links toxins with humans. Our mission is to find out the right natural pairings and interactions of our body elements with toxins, and with endogenous toxin-like molecules. Although, in nature, toxins may endanger human lives, but from a philosophical point of view, knowing them well is an effective way to better understand ourselves. So, this is why we study toxins.
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