It is time for top-down venomics
Abstract The protein composition of animal venoms is usually determined by peptide-centric proteomics approaches (bottom-up proteomics). However, this technique cannot, in most cases, distinguish among toxin proteoforms, herein called toxiforms, because of the protein inference problem. Top-down proteomics (TDP) analyzes intact proteins without digestion and provides high quality data to identify and characterize toxiforms. Denaturing top-down proteomics is the most disseminated subarea of TDP, which performs qualitative and quantitative analyzes of proteoforms up to ~30 kDa in high-throughput and automated fashion. On the other hand, native top-down proteomics provides access to information on large proteins (> 50 kDA) and protein interactions preserving non-covalent bonds and physiological complex stoichiometry. The use of native and denaturing top-down venomics introduced novel and useful techniques to toxinology, allowing an unprecedented characterization of venom proteins and protein complexes at the toxiform level. The collected data contribute to a deep understanding of venom natural history, open new possibilities to study the toxin evolution, and help in the development of better biotherapeutics.