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Global Transcriptome Analysis of the Scorpion Centruroides noxius: New Toxin Families and Evolutionary Insights from an Ancestral Scorpion Species

posted on 17.08.2012, 00:18 authored by Martha Rendón-Anaya, Luis Delaye, Lourival D. Possani, Alfredo Herrera-Estrella

Scorpion venoms have been studied for decades, leading to the identification of hundreds of different toxins with medical and pharmacological implications. However, little emphasis has been given to the description of these arthropods from cellular and evolutionary perspectives. In this report, we describe a transcriptomic analysis of the Mexican scorpion Centruroides noxius Hoffmann, performed with a pyrosequencing platform. Three independent sequencing experiments were carried out, each including three different cDNA libraries constructed from RNA extracted from the whole body of the scorpion after telson removal, and from the venom gland before and after venom extraction. Over three million reads were obtained and assembled in almost 19000 isogroups. Within the telson-specific sequences, 72 isogroups (0.4% of total unique transcripts) were found to be similar to toxins previously reported in other scorpion species, spiders and sea anemones. The annotation pipeline also revealed the presence of important elements of the small non-coding RNA processing machinery, as well as microRNA candidates. A phylogenomic analysis of concatenated essential genes evidenced differential evolution rates in this species, particularly in ribosomal proteins and proteasome components. Additionally, statistical comparison of transcript abundance before and after venom extraction showed that 3% and 2% of the assembled isogroups had higher expression levels in the active and replenishing gland, respectively. Thus, our sequencing and annotation strategies provide a general view of the cellular and molecular processes that take place in these arthropods, allowed the discovery of new pharmacological and biotechnological targets and uncovered several regulatory and metabolic responses behind the assembly of the scorpion venom. The results obtained in this report represent the first high-throughput study that thoroughly describes the universe of genes that are expressed in the scorpion Centruroides noxius Hoffmann, a highly relevant organism from medical and evolutionary perspectives.