Snake venomics and venom gland transcriptomic analysis of Brazilian coral snakes, Micrurus altirostris and M. corallinus

J Proteomics. 2011 Aug 24;74(9):1795-809. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2011.04.003. Epub 2011 Apr 12.


The venom proteomes of Micrurus altirostris and M. corallinus were analyzed by combining snake venomics and venom gland transcriptomic surveys. In both coral snake species, 3FTx and PLA(2) were the most abundant and diversified toxin families. 33 different 3FTxs and 13 PLA(2) proteins, accounting respectively for 79.5% and 13.7% of the total proteins, were identified in the venom of M. altirostris. The venom of M. corallinus comprised 10 3FTx (81.7% of the venom proteome) and 4 (11.9%) PLA(2) molecules. Transcriptomic data provided the full-length amino acid sequences of 18 (M. altirostris) and 10 (M. corallinus) 3FTxs, and 3 (M. altirostris) and 1 (M. corallinus) novel PLA(2) sequences. In addition, venom from each species contained single members of minor toxin families: 3 common (PIII-SVMP, C-type lectin-like, L-amino acid oxidase) and 4 species-specific (CRISP, Kunitz-type inhibitor, lysosomal acid lipase in M. altirostris; serine proteinase in M. corallinus) toxin classes. The finding of a lipase (LIPA) in the venom proteome and in the venom gland transcriptome of M. altirostris supports the view of a recruitment event predating the divergence of Elapidae and Viperidae more than 60 Mya. The toxin profile of both M. altirostris and M. corallinus venoms points to 3FTxs and PLA(2) molecules as the major players of the envenoming process. In M. altirostris venom, all major, and most minor, 3FTxs display highest similarity to type I α-neurotoxins, suggesting that these postsynaptically acting toxins may play the predominant role in the neurotoxic effect leading to peripheral paralysis, respiratory arrest, and death. M. corallinus venom posesses both, type I α-neurotoxins and a high-abundance (26% of the venom proteome) protein of subfamily XIX of 3FTxs, exhibiting similarity to bucandin from Malayan krait, Bungarus candidus, venom, which enhances acetylcholine release presynaptically. This finding may explain the presynaptic neurotoxicity of M. corallinus venom and the lack of this effect in M. altirostris venom. The anti-Micrurus (corallinus and frontalis) antivenom produced by Instituto Butantan quantitatively immunodepleted the minor toxins from M. altirostris and M. corallinus venoms but showed impaired crossreactivity towards their major 3FTx and PLA(2) molecules. The structural diversity of 3FTxs among Micrurus sp. may underlay the impaired cross-immunoreactivity of the Butantan antivenom towards M. altirostris and M. corallinus toxins, hampering the possibility to raise an antivenom against a simple venom mixture exhibiting paraspecific neutralization of other Micrurus venoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antivenins / immunology
  • Cross Reactions / immunology
  • Elapid Venoms / analysis*
  • Elapid Venoms / chemistry
  • Elapid Venoms / enzymology
  • Elapidae / genetics*
  • Gene Library
  • Proteome / analysis*
  • Transcriptome*


  • Antivenins
  • Elapid Venoms
  • Proteome
  • micrurus venom