Differential toxicity and venom gland gene expression in Centruroides vittatus

Thomas McElroy, Kennesaw State University
C. Neal McReynolds, Texas A and M International University
Alyssa Gulledge, Kennesaw State University
Kelci R. Knight, Kennesaw State University
Whitney E. Smith, Kennesaw State University
Eric A. Albrecht, Kennesaw State University


Variation in venom toxicity and composition exists in many species. In this study, venom potency and venom gland gene expression was evaluated in Centruroides vittatus, size class I-II (immature) and size class IV (adults/penultimate instars) size classes. Venom toxicity was evaluated by probit analysis and returned ED50 values of 50.1 μg/g for class IV compared to 134.2 μg/g for class I-II 24 hours post injection, suggesting size class IV was 2.7 fold more potent. Next generation sequencing (NGS and qPCR were used to characterize venom gland gene expression. NGS data was assembled into 36,795 contigs, and annotated using BLASTx with UNIPROT. EdgeR analysis of the sequences showed statistically significant differential expression in transcripts associated with sodium and potassium channel modulation. Sodium channel modulator expression generally favored size class IV; in contrast, potassium channel modulators were favored in size class I-II expression. Real-time quantitative PCR of 14 venom toxin transcripts detected relative expression ratios that paralleled NGS data and identified potential family members or splice variants for several sodium channel modulators. Our data suggests ontogenetic differences in venom potency and venom related genes expression exist between size classes I-II and IV.