Differential destructive (non-clotting) fibrinogenolytic activity in Afro-Asian elapid snake venoms and the links to defensive hooding behavior.Toxicol In Vitro. 2019 Oct; 60:330-335.TV
Envenomations by venomous snakes have major public health implications on a global scale. Despite its medical importance, snakebite has long been a neglected tropical disease by both governments and medical science. Many aspects of the resulting pathophysiology have been largely under-investigated. Most research on snake venom has focused on the neurological effects, with coagulotoxicity being relatively neglected, especially for venoms in the Elapidae snake family. In order to fill the knowledge gap regarding the coagulotoxic effects of elapid snake venoms, we performed functional activity tests to determine the fibrinogenolytic activity of 29 African and Asian elapid venoms across eight genera. The results of this study revealed that destructive (non-clotting) fibrinogenolytic activity is widespread across the African and Asian elapids. This trait evolved independently twice: once in the Hemachatus/Naja last common ancestor and again in Ophiophagus. Further, within Naja this trait was amplified on several independent occasions and possibly explains some of the clinical symptoms produced by these species. Species within the Hemachatus/Naja with fibrinogenolytic activity only cleaved the Aα-chain of fibrinogen, whereas Ophiophagus venoms degraded both the Aα- and the Bβ-chain of fibrinogen. All other lineages tested in this study lacked significant fibrinogenolytic effects. Our systematic research across Afro-Asian elapid snake venoms helps shed light on the various molecular mechanisms that are involved in coagulotoxicity within Elapidae.