Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unlocking the mystery of the duck-billed platypus' venom

Date:
January 15, 2010
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Abandon any notion that the duck-billed platypus is a soft and cuddly creature -- maybe like Perry the Platypus in the Phineas and Ferb cartoon. The males can deliver a mega-sting that causes immediate, excruciating pain, like hundreds of hornet stings, leaving victims incapacitated for weeks. Now scientists are reporting an advance toward deciphering the chemical composition of the venom, with the first identification of a dozen protein building blocks.

A duck billed platypus feeding in a creek in the Atherton Tablelands, Queensland, Australia. The male duck-billed platypus has stingers on its hind limbs that can deliver a painful venom.
Credit: iStockphoto/George Clerk

Abandon any notion that the duck-billed platypus is a soft and cuddly creature -- maybe like Perry the Platypus in the Phineas and Ferb cartoon. This platypus, renowned as one of the few mammals that lay eggs, also is one of only a few venomous mammals. The males can deliver a mega-sting that causes immediate, excruciating pain, like hundreds of hornet stings, leaving victims incapacitated for weeks. Now scientists are reporting an advance toward deciphering the chemical composition of the venom, with the first identification of a dozen protein building blocks.

Their study is in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Masaki Kita, Daisuke Uemura, and colleagues note that spurs in the hind limb of the male platypus can deliver the venom, a cocktail of substances that cause excruciating pain. The scientists previously showed that the venom triggers certain chemical changes in cultured human nerve cells that can lead to the sensation of pain. Until now, however, scientists did not know the exact components of the venom responsible for this effect.

To unlock its secrets, the scientists collected samples of platypus venom and used high-tech analytical instruments to separate and characterize its components. They identified 11 new peptides, or protein subunits, in the venom. Studies using nerve cells suggest that one of these substances, called Heptapeptide 1, is the main agent responsible for triggering pain. The substance appears to work by interacting with certain receptors in the nerve cells, they suggest.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kita et al. Duck-Billed Platypus Venom Peptides Induce Ca2 Influx in Neuroblastoma Cells. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2009; 131 (50): 18038 DOI: 10.1021/ja908148z

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Unlocking the mystery of the duck-billed platypus' venom." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100113172254.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2010, January 15). Unlocking the mystery of the duck-billed platypus' venom. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100113172254.htm
American Chemical Society. "Unlocking the mystery of the duck-billed platypus' venom." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100113172254.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins