Mud in the blood: Novel potent anticoagulant coagulotoxicity in the venoms of the Australian elapid snake genus Denisonia (mud adders) and relative antivenom efficacy.Toxicol Lett 2019; 302:1-6TL
Due to their potent coagulotoxicity, Australian elapid venoms are unique relative to non-Australian members of the Elapidae snake family. The majority of Australian elapids possess potent procoagulant venom, while only a few species have been identified as possessing anticoagulant venoms. The majority of research to-date has concentrated on large species with range distributions overlapping major city centres, such as brown snakes (Pseudonaja spp.) and taipans (Oxyuranus spp.). We investigated the venom from the poorly studied genus Denisonia and documented anticoagulant activities that were differentially potent on amphibian, avian, and human plasmas. Both species were potently anticoagulant upon amphibian plasma, consistent with these snakes preying upon frogs as their primary food source. While D. devisi was only relatively weakly active on avian and human plasma, D. maculata was potently anticoagulant to amphibian, avian, and human plasma. The mechanism of anticoagulant action was determined to be the inhibition of prothrombin activation by Factor Xa by blocking the formation of the prothrombinase complex. Fractionation of D. maculata venom followed by MS sequencing revealed that the toxins responsible were Group I phospholipase A2. As no antivenom is produced for this species or its near relatives, we examined the ability of Seqirus Australian snake polyvalent antivenom to neutralise the anticoagulant effects, with this antivenom shown to be effective. These results contribute to the body of knowledge regarding adaptive evolution of venom, revealing a unique taxon-specific anticoagulant effect for D. devisi venom. These results also reveal the potential effects and mechanisms behind envenomation by the potently acting D. maculata venom on human plasma, while the discovery of the efficacy of an available antivenom provides information crucial to the design of snakebite management strategies.