Most previous studies have focused on analgesic and anti-cancer activities for the conotoxins identified from piscivorous and molluscivorous cone snails, but little attention has been devoted to insecticidal activity of conotoxins from the dominant vermivorous species. As a representative vermivorous cone snail, the Chinese tubular cone snail (Conus betulinus) is the dominant Conus species inhabiting the South China Sea. We sequenced related venom transcriptomes from C. betulinus using both the next-generation sequencing and traditional Sanger sequencing technologies, and a comprehensive library of 215 conotoxin transcripts was constructed. In our current study, six conotoxins with potential insecticidal activity were screened out from our conotoxin library by homologous search with a reported positive control (alpha-conotoxin ImI from C. imperialis) as the query. Subsequently, these conotoxins were synthesized by chemical solid-phase and oxidative folding for further insecticidal activity validation, such as MTT assay, insect bioassay and homology modeling. The final results proved insecticidal activities of our achieved six conotoxins from the transcriptome-based dataset. Interestingly, two of them presented a lot of high insecticidal activity, which supports their usefulness for a trial as insecticides in field investigations. In summary, our present work provides a good example for high throughput development of biological insecticides on basis of the accumulated genomic resources.
Keywords: Chinese tubular cone snail; Conus betulinus; conotoxin; insecticidal activity.