Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins including Tropical Diseases]]> vol. 24 num. lang. es <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[The evolution and distribution of noxious species of scorpions (Arachnida: Scorpiones)]]> Abstract This contribution attempts to bring some general information on the evolution and, in particular, on the geographic distribution of scorpion species noxious to humans. Since 95% of the scorpions incidents are generated by specimens of the family Buthidae C. L. Koch, the analysis will be limited to this familial group. As in previous similar contributions, the content of this work is mostly addressed to non-specialists whose research embraces scorpions in several fields such as venom toxins and public health. Only in recent years, efforts have been made to create better links between ‘academic scorpion experts’ and other academic non-specialists who use scorpions in their research. Even if a larger progress can yet be expected from such exchanges, crossed information proved to be useful in most fields of scorpion studies. Since the taxonomy of scorpions is complex, misidentifications and even more serious errors concerning scorpion classification/ identification are often present in the general literature. Consequently, a precise knowledge of the distribution patterns presented by many scorpion groups and, in particular, those of infamous species, proves to be a key point in the interpretation of final results, leading to a better treatment of the problems caused by infamous scorpion species. <![CDATA[Effects of Brazilian scorpion venoms on the central nervous system]]> Abstract In Brazil, the scorpion species responsible for most severe incidents belong to the Tityus genus and, among this group, T. serrulatus, T. bahiensis, T. stigmurus and T. obscurus are the most dangerous ones. Other species such as T. metuendus, T. silvestres, T. brazilae, T. confluens, T. costatus, T. fasciolatus and T. neglectus are also found in the country, but the incidence and severity of accidents caused by them are lower. The main effects caused by scorpion venoms - such as myocardial damage, cardiac arrhythmias, pulmonary edema and shock - are mainly due to the release of mediators from the autonomic nervous system. On the other hand, some evidence show the participation of the central nervous system and inflammatory response in the process. The participation of the central nervous system in envenoming has always been questioned. Some authors claim that the central effects would be a consequence of peripheral stimulation and would be the result, not the cause, of the envenoming process. Because, they say, at least in adult individuals, the venom would be unable to cross the blood-brain barrier. In contrast, there is some evidence showing the direct participation of the central nervous system in the envenoming process. This review summarizes the major findings on the effects of Brazilian scorpion venoms on the central nervous system, both clinically and experimentally. Most of the studies have been performed with T. serrulatus and T. bahiensis. Little information is available regarding the other Brazilian Tityus species. <![CDATA[Actiflagelin, a new sperm activator isolated from <em>Walterinnesia aegyptia</em> venom using phenotypic screening]]> Abstract Background Sperm contains a wealth of cell surface receptors and ion channels that are required for most of its basic functions such as motility and acrosome reaction. Conversely, animal venoms are enriched in bioactive compounds that primarily target those ion channels and cell surface receptors. We hypothesized, therefore, that animal venoms should be rich enough in sperm-modulating compounds for a drug discovery program. Our objective was to demonstrate this fact by using a sperm-based phenotypic screening to identify positive modulators from the venom of Walterinnesia aegyptia. Methods Herein, as proof of concept that venoms contain interesting compounds for sperm physiology, we fractionated Walterinnesia aegyptia snake venom by RP-HPLC and screened for bioactive fractions capable of accelerating mouse sperm motility (primary screening). Next, we purified each compound from the positive fraction by cation exchange and identified the bioactive peptide by secondary screening. The peptide sequence was established by Edman sequencing of the reduced/alkylated compound combined to LC-ESI-QTOF MS/MS analyses of reduced/alkylated fragment peptides following trypsin or V8 protease digestion. Results Using this two-step purification protocol combined to cell phenotypic screening, we identified a new toxin of 7329.38 Da (actiflagelin) that activates sperm motility in vitro from OF1 male mice. Actiflagelin is 63 amino acids in length and contains five disulfide bridges along the proposed pattern of disulfide connectivity C1-C5, C2-C3, C4- C6, C7-C8 and C9-C10. Modeling of its structure suggests that it belongs to the family of three finger toxins with a noticeable homology with bucandin, a peptide from Bungarus candidus venom. Conclusions This report demonstrates the feasibility of identifying profertility compounds that may be of therapeutic potential for infertility cases where motility is an issue.