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 August 22, 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 August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) A federal judge temporarily banned coyote hunting to save endangered red wolves, but local hunters say that the wolf preservation program does more harm than good. Meanwhile federal officials are reviewing its wolf program in North Carolina. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd

Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) New England farms are seeing a surge in younger farm hands as the 'buy local' food movement grows across the country. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, spiders that live in cities are bigger, fatter and multiply faster. Video provided by Newsy
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