Combined transcriptomic and proteomic analysis reveals a diversity of venom-related and toxin-like peptides expressed in the mat anemone Zoanthus natalensis (Cnidaria, Hexacorallia)


Venoms from marine animals have been recognized as a new emerging source of peptide-based therapeutics. Several peptide toxins from sea anemone have been investigated as therapeutic leads or pharmacological tools. Venom complexity should be further highlighted using combined strategies of large-scale sequencing and data analysis which integrated transcriptomics and proteomics to elucidate new proteins or peptides to be compared among species. In this work, transcriptomic and proteomic analyses were combined to identify six groups of expressed peptide toxins in Zoanthus natalensis. These include neurotoxin, hemostatic and hemorrhagic toxin, protease inhibitor, mixed function enzymes, venom auxiliary proteins, allergen peptides, and peptides related to the innate immunity. Molecular docking analysis indicated that one expressed Zoanthus Kunitz-like peptide, ZoaKuz1, could be a voltage-gated potassium channels blocker and, hence, it was selected for functional studies. Functional bioassays revealed that ZoaKuz1 has an intrinsic neuroprotective activity in zebrafish model of Parkinson’s disease. Since pharmacological blockade of KV channels is known to induce neuroprotective effects, ZoaKuz1 holds the potential to be developed in a therapeutic tool to control neural dysfunction by slowing or even halting neurodegeneration mediated by ion-channel hyperactivity.


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