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Structure of the yellow sac spider Cheiracanthium punctorium genes provides clues to evolution of insecticidal two-domain knottin toxins

Authors

  • M. Y. Sachkova,

    1. M.M. Shemyakin and Yu.A. Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russian Federation
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  • A. A. Slavokhotova,

    1. M.M. Shemyakin and Yu.A. Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russian Federation
    2. N.I. Vavilov Institute of General Genetics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russian Federation
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  • E. V. Grishin,

    1. M.M. Shemyakin and Yu.A. Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russian Federation
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  • A. A. Vassilevski

    Corresponding author
    1. M.M. Shemyakin and Yu.A. Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russian Federation
    • Correspondence: Alexander A. Vassilevski, M.M. Shemyakin and Yu.A. Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Miklukho-Maklaya, 16/10, 117997 Moscow, Russian Federation. Tel.: +7 495 336 65 40; e-mail: avas@ibch.ru

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Errata

This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Corrigendum Volume 23, Issue 6, 857, Article first published online: 7 October 2014

Abstract

Yellow sac spiders (Cheiracanthium punctorium, family Miturgidae) are unique in terms of venom composition, because, as we show here, two-domain toxins have replaced the usual one-domain peptides as the major constituents. We report the structure of the two-domain Che. punctorium toxins (CpTx), along with the corresponding cDNA and genomic DNA sequences. At least three groups of insecticidal CpTx were identified, each consisting of several members. Unlike many cone snail and snake toxins, accelerated evolution is not typical of cptx genes, which instead appear to be under the pressure of purifying selection. Both CpTx modules present the inhibitor cystine knot (ICK), or knottin signature; however, the sequence similarity between the domains is low. Conversely, notable similarity was found between separate domains of CpTx and one-domain toxins from spiders of the Lycosidae family. The observed chimerism is a landmark of exon shuffling events, but in contrast to many families of multidomain protein genes no introns were found in the cptx genes. Considering the possible scenarios, we suggest that an early transcription-mediated fusion event between two related one-domain toxin genes led to the emergence of a primordial cptx-like sequence. We conclude that evolution of toxin variability in spiders appears to be quite different from other venomous animals.

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