Peptide fingerprinting of the neurotoxic fractions isolated from the secretions of sea anemonesStichodactyla helianthusandBunodosoma granulifera. New members of the APETx-like family identified by a 454 pyrosequencing approach

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Sea anemones are known to contain a wide diversity of biologically active peptides, mostly unexplored according to recent peptidomic and transcriptomic studies. In the present work, the neurotoxic fractions from the exudates of Stichodactyla helianthus and Bunodosoma granulifera were analyzed by reversed-phase chromatography and mass spectrometry. The first peptide fingerprints of these sea anemones were assessed, revealing the largest number of peptide components (156) so far found in sea anemone species, as well as the richer peptide diversity of B. granulifera in relation to S. helianthus. The transcriptomic analysis of B. granulifera, performed by massive cDNA sequencing with 454 pyrosequencing approach allowed the discovery of five new APETx-like peptides (U-AITX-Bg1a–e – including the full sequences of their precursors for four of them), which together with type 1 sea anemone sodium channel toxins constitute a very distinguishable feature of studied sea anemone species belonging to genus Bunodosoma. The molecular modeling of these new APETx-like peptides showed a distribution of positively charged and aromatic residues in putative contact surfaces as observed in other animal toxins. On the other hand, they also showed variable electrostatic potentials, thus suggesting a docking onto their targeted channels in different spatial orientations. Moreover several crab paralyzing toxins (other than U-AITX-Bg1a–e), which induce a variety of symptoms in crabs, were isolated. Some of them presumably belong to new classes of crab-paralyzing peptide toxins, especially those with molecular masses below 2 kDa, which represent the smallest peptide toxins found in sea anemones.

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