Phoneutria nigriventervenom: A pharmacological treasure

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Abstract

In millions of years, spiders have optimized their venoms in order to assure successful prey capture and defence against predators. Spider venoms have become unique cocktails of biological active components enabling potentially interesting application for drug discovery or for agricultural purposes. The venom of Phoneutria nigriventer has been studied for over 60 years. This spider is responsible for a high number of envenomations with severe clinical manifestations in humans, which necessitates a comprehensive knowledge of its venom composition. With over 40 different neurotoxic peptides characterized so far and still many more awaiting identification, this venom is undoubtedly a pharmacological treasure. This review provides an overview of the Phoneutria nigriventer toxins known today and describes their mechanism of action at a molecular level. We critically discuss the potential of the Phoneutria nigriventer venom peptides as pharmaceutical tools or lead compounds for drug development.

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