One scorpion, two venoms

Prevenom of Parabuthus transvaalicus acts as an alternative type of venom with distinct mechanism of action

Bora Inceoglu, Jozsef Lango, Jie Jing, Lili Chen, Fuat Doymaz, Isaac N Pessah, Bruce D. Hammock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

98 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Scorpion venom is a complex mixture of salts, small molecules, peptides, and proteins. Scorpions employ this valuable tool in several sophisticated ways for subduing prey, deterring predators, and possibly during mating. Here, a subtle but clever strategy of venom utilization by scorpions is reported. Scorpions secrete a small quantity of transparent venom when initially stimulated that we propose to name prevenom. If secretion continues, a cloudy and dense venom that is white in color is subsequently released. The prevenom contains a combination of high K+ salt and several peptides including some that block rectifying K+ channels and elicit significant pain and toxicity because of a massive local depolarization. The presence of high extracellular K+ in the prevenom can depolarize cells and also decrease the local electrochemical gradient making it more difficult to reestablish the resting potential. When this positive change to the K+ equilibrium potential is combined with the blockage of rectifying K+ channels, this further delays the recovery of the resting potential, causing a prolonged effect. We propose that the prevenom of scorpions is used as a highly efficacious predator deterrent and for immobilizing small prey while conserving metabolically expensive venom until a certain level of stimuli is reached, after which the venom is secreted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)922-927
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume100
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 4 2003

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Scorpion Venoms
Venoms
Scorpions
Membrane Potentials
Salts
Peptides
Complex Mixtures
Names
Color
Pain
Proteins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General

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One scorpion, two venoms : Prevenom of Parabuthus transvaalicus acts as an alternative type of venom with distinct mechanism of action. / Inceoglu, Bora; Lango, Jozsef; Jing, Jie; Chen, Lili; Doymaz, Fuat; Pessah, Isaac N; Hammock, Bruce D.

In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 100, No. 3, 04.02.2003, p. 922-927.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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