Tracking the recruitment and evolution of snake toxins using the evolutionary context provided by the Bothrops jararaca genome
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Venom is a key adaptive innovation in snakes, and how nonvenom genes were co-opted to become part of the toxin arsenal is a significant evolutionary question. While this process has been investigated through the phylogenetic reconstruction of toxin sequences, evidence provided by the genomic context of toxin genes remains less explored. To investigate the process of toxin recruitment, we sequenced the genome of Bothrops jararaca, a clinically relevant pitviper. In addition to producing a road map with canonical structures of genes encoding 12 toxin families, we inferred most of the ancestral genes for their loci. We found evidence that 1) snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs) and phospholipases A2 (PLA2) have expanded in genomic proximity to their nonvenomous ancestors; 2) serine proteinases arose by co-opting a local gene that also gave rise to lizard gilatoxins and then expanded; 3) the bradykinin-potentiating peptides originated from a C-type natriuretic peptide gene backbone; and 4) VEGF-F was co-opted from a PGF-like gene and not from VEGF-A. We evaluated two scenarios for the original recruitment of nontoxin genes for snake venom: 1) in locus ancestral gene duplication and 2) in locus ancestral gene direct co-option. The first explains the origins of two important toxins (SVMP and PLA2), while the second explains the emergence of a greater number of venom components. Overall, our results support the idea of a locally assembled venom arsenal in which the most clinically relevant toxin families expanded through posterior gene duplications, regardless of whether they originated by duplication or gene co-option
Almeida DD, Viala VL, Nachtigall PG, Broe M, Gibbs H.L, Serrano SMT, et al. Tracking the recruitment and evolution of snake toxins using the evolutionary context provided by the Bothrops jararaca genome. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Apr;118(20):e2015159118. doi:10.1073/pnas.2015159118.
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