Classification of elapid snake neurotoxins and cytotoxins according to chain length: evolutionary implications

J Mol Evol. 1984;20(2):128-34. doi: 10.1007/BF02257373.


The amino acid sequences of the 139 homologous "short" neurotoxins, "long" neurotoxins and cytotoxins so far characterised from elapid snake venoms were compared on the basis of the amino acid deletion/insertion events that have occurred during evolution. Systematic grouping of the toxins according to similarity suggests that the short neurotoxins resemble the cytotoxins more closely than they do the long neurotoxins. The significance of this finding is discussed in relation to the methodology, the conformations of the toxins (as represented by circular dichroism spectra) and the outcome of the study that would have been obtained. had more traditional methods been used. It appears probable that the cytotoxins evolved relatively recently from neurotoxic ancestors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Cytotoxins / classification
  • Elapid Venoms / classification*
  • Neurotoxins / classification
  • Protein Conformation


  • Cytotoxins
  • Elapid Venoms
  • Neurotoxins