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Analysis of the ontogenetic and seasonal variability of Bothrops jararacussu's (Serpentes: Viperidae; Lacerda 1884) snake venom

Grant number: 21/08176-7
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): February 01, 2022
Effective date (End): July 31, 2022
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Physiology - Compared Physiology
Principal Investigator:Anita Mitico Tanaka-Azevedo
Grantee:Weslei da Silva Aguiar
Supervisor: Juan Calvete
Host Institution: Instituto Butantan. Secretaria da Saúde (São Paulo - Estado). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: Instituto de Biomedicina de Valencia (IBV), Spain  
Associated to the scholarship:18/20651-0 - Analysis of the ontogenetic and seasonal variability of Bothrops jararacussu's (Serpentes: Viperidae; Lacerda 1884) snake venom, BP.DR


Snake venoms are one of the most complex of known venoms and are one of the most studied animal toxins from the last century to the present day. The venoms represent a critical innovation in the evolution of snakes that allowed the transition of prey capture from a mechanical to chemical, and this innovation played an important role in the diversification and evolution of these animals. Concerning to studies with snake venoms, numerous works with several individuals of the bothropic genus focusing on the ontogeny of these animals are found. When using the PUBMED database, no results on studies related to Bothrops jararacussu ontogeny are displayed. This fact led us to develop a greater interest in this species, which being little explored so far, can generate interesting results for research in the medical, ecological and biotechnological areas. That the composition and function of venoms vary between young and adults individuals, in many species of snakes, is already a well-established fact. However, these changes are different for each species. Among the snakes of the genus, B. jararacussu was previously described as the species with the highest myotoxic activity. A peculiarity was also observed in its venom: a low rate of immunogenicity. In addition, its activity is not efficiently neutralized by the specific antibothropic serum. Previously, Vital Brazil had demonstrated that the lethal activity of B. jararacussu venom is, when compared to other bothropic venoms, better neutralized by the anticrotalic serum. Despite so many peculiarities in the composition of its venom, it is strange to note the lack of attention that this species has received in the last years of research. With this in mind, this study aims to carry out an ontogenetic study of B. jararacussu snake, born from the same litter in the Herpetology Laboratory of the Butantan Institute, following its development until adulthood, in addition to the seasonal analysis of venom from adult individuals. In our main project, we followed the development of, initially, 18 newborn individuals from a litter of B. jararacussu and 10 adult individuals. During the period of two years, venom extractions were performed quarterly in order to monitor the ontogenetic changes of the young individuals and the possible seasonal changes in the adults. These samples were partially characterized and we were able to identify two distinct profiles in the venoms of these animals: young ones, with little PLA2 K-49 and more proteases, and adults with a lot of the same myotoxic PLA2 but less proteases. Those profiles start to change around 9 months on the male individuals while the female ones start showing those changes around15 months of age. The HPLC and SDS-PAGE profiles corroborate our findings. The immune recognition profiles also show us interesting results. Dr. Juan José Calvete, a researcher at the Institute of Biomedicine in Valencia, Spain, will be the advisor for this project. Mass spectrometry of the venom samples collected in the initial and final stages of all individuals will be performed, including all samples that are observed compositional changes by HPLC, SDS-PAGE analysis followed by MS/MS, according to the methodologies used by the researcher. (AU)

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