Blarina toxin, a mammalian lethal venom from the short-tailed shrew Blarina brevicauda: isolation and characterization

TitleBlarina toxin, a mammalian lethal venom from the short-tailed shrew Blarina brevicauda: isolation and characterization
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsKita M, Nakamura Y, Okumura Y, Ohdachi SD, Oba Y, Yoshikuni M, Kido H, Uemura D
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Volume101
Issue20
Pagination7542-7547
KeywordsVENOMS
Abstract

Venomous mammals are rare, and their venoms have not been characterized. We have purified and characterized the blarina toxin (BLTX), a lethal mammalian venom with a tissue kallikrein-like activity from the submaxillary and sublingual glands of the short-tailed shrew Blarina brevicauda. Mice administered BLTX i.p. developed irregular respiration, paralysis, and convulsions before dying. Based on the amino acid sequence of purifed protein, we cloned the BLTX cDNA. It consists of a prosequence and an active form of 253 aa with a typical catalytic triad of serine proteases, with a high identity with tissue kallikreins. BLTX is an N-linked microheterogeneous glycoprotein with a unique insertion of 10 residues, L106TFFYKTFLG115. BLTX converted kininogens to kinins, which may be one of the toxic pathogens, and had dilatory effects on the blood vessel walls. The acute toxicity and proteolytic activity of BLTX were strongly inhibited by aprotinin, a kallikrein inhibitor, suggesting that its toxicity is due to a kallikrein-like activity of the venom.