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Mol Biol Evol DOI:10.1093/molbev/msu162

Clawing through evolution: toxin diversification and convergence in the ancient lineage Chilopoda (centipedes).

Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsUndheim, EAB, Jones, A, Clauser, KR, Holland, JW, Pineda, SS, King, GF, Fry, BG
JournalMol Biol Evol
Date Published2014 Aug
KeywordsAnimals, Arthropod Venoms, Arthropods, Evolution, Molecular, Genomics, Multigene Family, Phylogeny

Despite the staggering diversity of venomous animals, there seems to be remarkable convergence in regard to the types of proteins used as toxin scaffolds. However, our understanding of this fascinating area of evolution has been hampered by the narrow taxonomical range studied, with entire groups of venomous animals remaining almost completely unstudied. One such group is centipedes, class Chilopoda, which emerged about 440 Ma and may represent the oldest terrestrial venomous lineage next to scorpions. Here, we provide the first comprehensive insight into the chilopod "venome" and its evolution, which has revealed novel and convergent toxin recruitments as well as entirely new toxin families among both high- and low molecular weight venom components. The ancient evolutionary history of centipedes is also apparent from the differences between the Scolopendromorpha and Scutigeromorpha venoms, which diverged over 430 Ma, and appear to employ substantially different venom strategies. The presence of a wide range of novel proteins and peptides in centipede venoms highlights these animals as a rich source of novel bioactive molecules. Understanding the evolutionary processes behind these ancient venom systems will not only broaden our understanding of which traits make proteins and peptides amenable to neofunctionalization but it may also aid in directing bioprospecting efforts.


Alternate JournalMol. Biol. Evol.
PubMed ID24847043
PubMed Central IDPMC4104317
Grant ListU24 CA160034 / CA / NCI NIH HHS / United States
R01HL096738 / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
R01 HL096738 / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
HHSN268201000033C / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
U24CA160034 / CA / NCI NIH HHS / United States