Meucin-49, a multifunctional scorpion venom peptide with bactericidal synergy with neurotoxins

Bin Gao, Julie Dalziel, Simone Tanzi, Shunyi Zhu*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    Besides key roles in prey capture and predator defense, scorpion venom also functions as internal immune agents protecting the venom gland from infection and external immune agents cleaning saprophytic microbes from their own body surfaces. However, antimicrobials (typically antimicrobial peptides, AMPs) in the venom often exist in low abundance that might exclude their immune role alone, leaving an open question with regard to their in vivo biological function. Here, we report the bactericidal activity of seven peptides isolated from the scorpion Mesobuthus eupeus venom, including one classical α-helical AMP and five ion channel-targeted neurotoxins. This AMP of 49 amino acids (named Meucin-49) is a multifunctional molecule that displays a wide-spectrum and highly potent activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria with strong hemotoxicity on scorpion’s predators (i.e., mammals, lizards, and birds) and high insecticidal activity. Although the neurotoxins targeting voltage-gated sodium (Nav) and/or large conductance calcium-activated potassium (BK) channels showed only marginal activity towards several species of bacteria, they were capable of significantly potentiating the bactericidal potency of Meucin-49. This observation highlights, for the first time, the venom’s antibacterial immune function mediated by a joint action between neurotoxins and AMPs. The findings that traditionally defined neurotoxins possess (synergistic) bactericidal activity, while the classical AMPs play predatory and defensive roles, provide new evidence in favor of a general and intrinsic multifunctionality of scorpion venom components.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAmino Acids
    Volume50
    Issue number8
    Pages (from-to)1025-1043
    ISSN0939-4451
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Keywords

    • Cytotoxic peptide
    • Hemotoxin
    • Moonlighting protein
    • Innate immunity
    • Mesobuthus eupeus

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