Loxosceles gaucho spider venom: an untapped source of antimicrobial agents

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The remarkable ability of microorganisms to develop resistance to conventional antibiotics is one of the biggest challenges that the pharmaceutical industry currently faces. Recent studies suggest that antimicrobial peptides discovered in spider venoms may be useful resources for the design of structurally new anti-infective agents effective against drug-resistant microorganisms. In this work, we found an anionic antibacterial peptide named U-1-SCRTX-Lg1a in the venom of the spider Loxosceles gaucho. The peptide was purified using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), its antimicrobial activity was tested through liquid growth inhibition assays, and its chemical properties were characterized using mass spectrometry. U-1-SCRTX-Lg1a was found to show a monoisotopic mass of 1695.75 Da, activity against Gram-negative bacteria, a lack of hemolytic effects against human red blood cells, and a lack of cytotoxicity against human cervical carcinoma cells (HeLa). Besides this, the sequence of the peptide exhibited great similarity to specific regions of phospholipases D from different species of Loxosceles spiders, leading to the hypothesis that U-1-SCRTX-Lg1a may have originated from a limited proteolytic cleavage. Our data suggest that U-1-SCRTX-Lg1a is a promising candidate for the development of new antibiotics that could help fight bacterial infections and represents an exciting discovery for Loxosceles spiders.
Segura-Ramirez PJ, Silva Junior PI. Loxosceles gaucho spider venom: an untapped source of antimicrobial agents. Toxins. 2018 Dec;10(12):522. doi:10.3390/toxins10120522.
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