Identification of Novel Conotoxin Precursors from the Cone Snail Conus spurius by High-Throughput RNA Sequencing

Mar Drugs. 2021 Sep 28;19(10):547. doi: 10.3390/md19100547.


Marine gastropods of the genus Conus, comprising more than 800 species, have the characteristic of injecting worms and other prey with venom. These conopeptide toxins, highly diverse in structure and action, are highly potent and specific for their molecular targets (ion channels, receptors, and transporters of the prey's nervous system), and thus are important research tools and source for drug discovery. Next-generation sequencing technologies are speeding up the discovery of novel conopeptides in many of these species, but only limited information is available for Conus spurius, which inhabits sandy mud. To search for new precursor conopeptides, we analyzed the transcriptome of the venous ducts of C. spurius and identified 55 putative conotoxins. Seven were selected for further study and confirmed by Sanger sequencing to belong to the M-superfamily (Sr3.M01 and Sr3.M02), A-superfamily (Sr1.A01 and Sr1.A02), O-superfamily (Sr15.O01), and Con-ikot-ikot (Sr21.CII01 and Sr22.CII02). Six of these have never been reported. To our knowledge, this report is the first to use high-throughput RNA sequencing for the study of the diversity of C. spurius conotoxins.

Keywords: Conus spurius; conopeptide precursors; superfamily; transcriptome.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Conotoxins / chemistry*
  • Conus Snail / genetics*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing


  • Conotoxins