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An economic dilemma between molecular weapon systems may explain an arachno-atypical venom in wasp spiders (Argiope bruennichi)

: Lüddecke, T.; von Reumont, B.M.; Förster, F.; Billion, A.; Timm, T.; Lochnit, G.; Vilcinskas, A.; Lemke, S.

Volltext ()

Biomolecules 10 (2020), Nr.7, Art. 978, 20 S.
ISSN: 2218-273X
Zeitschriftenaufsatz, Elektronische Publikation
Fraunhofer IME ()

Spiders use venom to subdue their prey, but little is known about the diversity of venoms in different spider families. Given the limited data available for orb-weaver spiders (Araneidae), we selected the wasp spider Argiope bruennichi for detailed analysis. Our strategy combined a transcriptomics pipeline based on multiple assemblies with a dual proteomics workflow involving parallel mass spectrometry techniques and electrophoretic profiling. We found that the remarkably simple venom of A. bruennichi has an atypical composition compared to other spider venoms, prominently featuring members of the cysteine-rich secretory protein, antigen 5 and pathogenesis-related protein 1 (CAP) superfamily and other, mostly high-molecular-weight proteins. We also detected a subset of potentially novel toxins similar to neuropeptides. We discuss the potential function of these proteins in the context of the unique hunting behavior of wasp spiders, which rely mostly on silk to trap their prey. We propose that the simplicity of the venom evolved to solve an economic dilemma between two competing yet metabolically expensive weapon systems. This study emphasizes the importance of cutting-edge methods to encompass the lineages of smaller venomous species that have yet to be characterized in detail, allowing us to understand the biology of their venom systems and to mine this prolific resource for translational research.