Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cone of poison: The secret behind the cone snail's venom pump

Date:
October 29, 2010
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Scientists have discovered the secret of how an amazing sea snail injects its venom after shooting a harpoon-like tooth into its prey -- or some unlucky swimmer -- at jetliner speeds. The creatures, called cone snails, use a highly specialized structure that instantly pumps the paralyzing venom through the tooth and into its target.

Scientists have discovered the secret of how an amazing sea snail injects its venom after shooting a harpoon-like tooth into its prey -- or some unlucky swimmer -- at jetliner speeds. The creatures, called cone snails, use a highly specialized structure that instantly pumps the paralyzing venom through the tooth and into its target.

Their study appears in ACS' monthly Journal of Proteome Research.

Helena Safavi-Hemami, Anthony Purcell and colleagues note that cone snails live mainly in the shallows of the world's tropical oceans. Prized by sea-shell collectors for their beautiful shells, the snails are up to 9 inches long. Their mouths have a blow-gun-like structure that shoots a barbed dart-like "tooth" at about 400 miles per hour. The tooth injects venom into fish, worms, or other prey. The snails occasionally sting swimmers, causing pain and sometimes death. They can reload the shooter with additional harpoons. The venom is produced in the venom duct, a long tube attached to the harpoon on one end and to the venom bulb in the snail's mouth.

The scientists' analysis of proteins in venom bulbs found high concentrations of arginine kinase, a protein that enables squid and scallops to swim away from danger with extreme speed. Its abundance in the bulb suggests that arginine kinase enables the venom bulb to undergo rapid, repeated contractions to quickly force the venom through the venom duct to the harpoon and into the prey, the scientists say. The scientists also identified specialized muscles in the venom bulb that appear to aid in this process.


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. Helena Safavi-Hemami, Neil D. Young, Nicholas A. Williamson, Anthony W. Purcell. Proteomic Interrogation of Venom Delivery in Marine Cone Snails: Novel Insights into the Role of the Venom Bulb. Journal of Proteome Research, 2010; 100929142354064 DOI: 10.1021/pr100431x

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Cone of poison: The secret behind the cone snail's venom pump." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101027124732.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2010, October 29). Cone of poison: The secret behind the cone snail's venom pump. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101027124732.htm
American Chemical Society. "Cone of poison: The secret behind the cone snail's venom pump." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101027124732.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur on Monday when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Drake University hosts 35th annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) One Florida fisherman caught a 805-pound shark off the coast of Florida earlier this month. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier

Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier

AP (Apr. 21, 2014) Breakfast is now being served with a side of sticker shock. The cost of morning staples like bacon, coffee and orange juice is on the rise because of global supply problems. (April 21) 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