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Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins

versión ISSN 0104-7930

J. Venom. Anim. Toxins v.7 n.2 Botucatu dic. 2001

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0104-79302001000200031 

Spider Venom Toxins

Odell, George V.; Clement, Herlinda; Possani, Lourival and Alagón, Alejandro

Instituto de Biotecnologia, UNAM, Cuernavaca, Morelos 62210. México

Out of the more than 40 thousand spider species described throughout the world, only about 180 are venomous to man (1,2). North American Latrodectus and Loxosceles cause health problems. Phoneutria has been described in Southern Mexico. The venoms of Theraphosidae (Tarantulas), funnel web, and some common garden species are excellent sources of peptide toxins for research. Spider venom peptide toxins are active as myotoxins and neurotoxins and are potassium, sodium, and calcium ion channel active compounds (3, 4, 5, and 6). Lower molecular weight acylpolyamines are paralytic and composed of an aromatic portion, amino acids, and polyamines; indole and hydroxybenzene are linked to spermine and other polyamines by an acyl group or amino acid. These compounds are major components of many spider venoms and have been called "glutamate receptor antagonists" by Grishin et al (7). Hyaluronidase (also known as "spreading factor"), nucleotide-like adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and citrate are major spider venom components. Hyaluronidase and citrate (anticoagulant, chelator, and buffer) can be proposed as active venom components, and recently extracellular ATP has been reported as toxic to certain cells (8). Latrodectus, black widow, has 40 documented species worldwide (1), while Mexico has 39 Loxosceles species (9), and 49 tarantulas species (10). The number of species of Latrodectus and Phoneutria in Mexico is unknown at this time. The action of the alpha-latrotoxin (molecular weight 130 kDa, 1219 amino acid residues), the major neurotoxin of black widow venom, is partially understood and can be neutralized using antivenom. The dermonecrotic toxin of Loxosceles, 32 kDa, is reported to be a sphingomyelinase enzyme, and recent reports have indicated that an effective antivenom is possible. The action of Loxosceles toxin is not well understood.

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