Unravelling the complex venom landscapes of lethal Australian funnel-web spiders (Hexathelidae: Atracinae) using LC-MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Journal of Proteomics, 2013, 80 pp. 292 - 310
Issue Date:
2013-03-07
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Spider venoms represent vast sources of bioactive molecules whose diversity remains largely unknown. Indeed, only a small subset of species have been studied out of the ~. 43,000 extant spider species. The present study investigated inter- and intra-species venom complexity in 18 samples collected from a variety of lethal Australian funnel-web spiders (Mygalomorphae: Hexathelidae: Atracinae) using C4 reversed-phase separation coupled to offline MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry (LC-MALDI-TOF MS). An in-depth investigation focusing on four atracine venoms (male Illawarra wisharti, male and female Hadronyche cerberea, and female Hadronyche infensa Toowoomba) revealed, on average, ~. 800 peptides in female venoms while male venoms contained ~. 400 peptides, distributed across most HPLC fractions. This is significantly higher than previous estimates of peptide expression in mygalomorph venoms. These venoms also showed distinct intersexual as well as intra- and inter-species variation in peptide masses. Construction of both 3D and 2D contour plots revealed that peptide mass distributions in all 18 venoms were centered around the 3200-5400. m/. z range and to a lesser extent the 6600-8200. m/. z range, consistent with previously described hexatoxins. These findings highlight the extensive diversity of peptide toxins in Australian funnel-web spider venoms that that can be exploited as novel therapeutic and biopesticide lead molecules. Biological significance: In the present study we describe the complexity of 18 venoms from lethal Australian funnel-web spiders using LC-MALDI-TOF MS. The study includes an in-depth investigation, focusing on four venoms, that revealed the presence of ~. 800 peptides in female venoms and ~. 400 peptides in male venoms. This is significantly higher than previous estimates of peptide expression in spider venoms. By constructing both 3D and 2D contour plots we were also able to reveal the distinct intersexual as well as intra- and inter-species variation in venom peptide masses. We show that peptide mass distributions in all 18 venoms were centered around the 3200-5400 m/. z range and to a lesser extent the 6600-8200 m/. z range, consistent with the small number of previously described hexatoxins from these spiders. These findings highlight the extensive diversity of peptide toxins in Australian funnel-web spider venoms that that can be exploited as novel therapeutic and biopesticide lead molecules. The present study has greatly expanded our understanding of peptide variety and complexity in these lethal mygalomorph spiders. Specifically it highlights both the utility of LC-MALDI-TOF in spider taxonomy and the massive combinatorial peptide libraries that spider venoms offer the pharmaceutical and agrochemical industry. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.
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