Venomics: Unravelling the complexity of animal venoms with mass spectrometry

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Journal Article
Journal of Mass Spectrometry, 2008, 43 (3), pp. 279 - 295
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Animal venoms and toxins are now recognized as major sources of bioactive molecules that may be tomorrow's new drug leads. Their complexity and their potential as drug sources have been demonstrated by application of modern analytical technologies, which have revealed venoms to be vast peptide combinatorial libraries. Structural as well as pharmacological diversity is immense, and mass spectrometry is now one of the major investigative tools for the structural investigation of venom components. Recent advances in its use in the study of venom and toxins are reviewed. The application of mass spectrometry techniques to peptide toxin sequence determination by de novo sequencing is discussed in detail, in the light of the search for novel analgesic drugs. We also present the combined application of LC-MALDI separation with mass fingerprinting and ISD fragmentation for the determination of structural and pharmacological classes of peptides in complex spider venoms. This approach now serves as the basis for the full investigation of complex spider venom proteomes, in combination with cDNA analysis. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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