Digestive enzymes and sphingomyelinase D in spiders without venom (Uloboridae)

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Spiders have distinct predatory behaviours selected along Araneae’s evolutionary history but are mainly based on the use of venom for prey paralysis. Uloboridae spiders have lost their venom glands secondarily during evolution. Because of this, they immobilise their prey by extensively wrapping, and digestion starts with the addition of digestive fluid. During the extra-oral digestion, the digestive fluid liquefies both the prey and the AcSp2 spidroins from the web fibres. Despite the efficiency of this process, the cocktail of enzymes involved in digestion in Uloboridae spiders remains unknown. In this study, the protein content in the midgut of Uloborus sp. was evaluated through enzymatic, proteomic, and phylogenetic analysis. Hydrolases such as peptidases (endo and exopeptidases: cysteine, serine, and metallopeptidases), carbohydrases (alpha-amylase, chitinase, and alpha-mannosidase), and lipases were biochemically assayed, and 50 proteins (annotated as enzymes, structural proteins, and toxins) were identified, evidencing the identity between the digestive enzymes present in venomous and non-venomous spiders. Even enzymes thought to be unique to venom, including enzymes such as sphingomyelinase D, were found in the digestive system of non-venomous spiders, suggesting a common origin between digestive enzymes and enzymes present in venoms. This is the first characterization of the molecules involved in the digestive process and the midgut protein content of a non-venomous spider.
Valladão R, Neto OBS, Gonzaga MO, Pimenta DC, Lopes AR. Digestive enzymes and sphingomyelinase D in spiders without venom (Uloboridae). Sci Rep. 2023 Feb; 13:2661. doi:10.1038/s41598-023-29828-x.
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