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Phylogeny-Guided Selection of Priority Groups for Venom Bioprospecting

Harvesting Toxin Sequences in Tarantulas as a Case Study
: Lüddecke, T.; Vilcinskas, A.; Lemke, S.

Fulltext ()

Toxins 11 (2019), No.9, Art.488, 10 pp.
ISSN: 2072-6651
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer IME ()

Animal venoms are promising sources of novel drug leads, but their translational potential is hampered by the low success rate of earlier biodiscovery programs, in part reflecting the narrow selection of targets for investigation. To increase the number of lead candidates, here we discuss a phylogeny-guided approach for the rational selection of venomous taxa, using tarantulas (family Theraphosidae) as a case study. We found that previous biodiscovery programs have prioritized the three subfamilies Ornithoctoninae, Selenocosmiinae, and Theraphosinae, which provide almost all of the toxin sequences currently available in public databases. The remaining subfamilies are poorly represented, if at all. These overlooked subfamilies include several that form entire clades of the theraphosid life tree, such as the subfamilies Eumenophorinae, Harpactirinae, and Stromatopelminae, indicating that biodiversity space has not been covered effectively for venom biodiscovery in Theraphosidae. Focusing on these underrepresented taxa will increase the likelihood that promising candidates with novel structures and mechanisms of action can be identified in future bioprospecting programs.