The venom from Australian elapid snakes contains a complex mixture of polypeptide toxins that adversely affect multiple homeostatic systems within their prey in a highly specific and targeted manner. Included in these toxin families are the recently described venom natriuretic peptides, which display similar structure and vasoactive functions to mammalian natriuretic peptides. This paper describes the identification and detailed comparative analysis of the cDNA transcripts coding for the mature natriuretic peptide from a total of nine Australian elapid snake species. Multiple isoforms were identified in a number of species and represent the first description of a natriuretic peptide from the venom gland for most of these snakes. Two distinct natriuretic peptide isoforms were selected from the common brown snake (Pseudonaja textilis), PtNP-a, and the mulga (Pseudechis australis), PaNP-c, for recombinant protein expression and functional analysis. Only one of these peptides, PtNP-a, displayed cGMP stimulation indicative of normal natriuretic peptide activity. Interestingly, both recombinant peptides demonstrated a dose-dependent inhibition of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) activity, which is predictive of the vasoactive effects of the toxin. The natriuretic peptides, however, did not possess any coagulopathic activity, nor did they inhibit or potentiate thrombin, adenosine diphosphate or arachidonic acid induced platelet aggregation. The data presented in this study represent a significant resource for understanding the role of various natriuretic peptides isoforms during the envenomation process by Australian elapid snakes.
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