Liu, Liang, Lan, Li, Zhang, Zhao, Li, Chen, Zhang, Lee, Zhao (2020) Comparative analysis of diverse toxins from a new pharmaceutical centipede, Scolopendra mojiangica Zoological research () 1-10


As the oldest venomous animals, centipedes use their venom as a weapon to attack prey and for protection. Centipede venom, which contains many bioactive and pharmacologically active compounds, has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine, as shown by ancient records. Based on comparative analysis, we revealed the diversity of and differences in centipede toxin-like molecules between Scolopendra mojiangica, a substitute pharmaceutical material used in China, and Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans. More than 6 000 peptides isolated from the venom were identified by electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry (ESI-MS/MS) and inferred from the transcriptome. As a result, in the proteome of S. mojiangica, 246 unique proteins were identified: one in five were toxin-like proteins or putative toxins with unknown function, accounting for a lower percentage of total proteins than that in S. mutilans. Transcriptome mining identified approximately 10 times more toxin-like proteins, which can characterize the precursor structures of mature toxin-like peptides. However, the constitution and quantity of the toxin transcripts in these two centipedes were similar. In toxicity assays, the crude venom showed strong insecticidal and hemolytic activity. These findings highlight the extensive diversity of toxin-like proteins in S. mojiangica and provide a new foundation for the medical-pharmaceutical use of centipede toxin-like proteins.