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

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Journal Article
Journal of Proteomics, 2013, 80 pp. 292 - 310
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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 3200â5400 m/z range and to a lesser extent the 6600â8200 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.
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