Intraspecific variation of venom injected by fish-hunting Conus snails

Jennifer A. Jakubowski, Wayne P. Kelley, Jonathan V. Sweedler, William F. Gilly, Joseph R. Schulz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Venom peptides from two species of fish-hunting cone snails (Conus striatus and Conus catus) were characterized using microbore liquid chromatography coupled with matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight-mass spectrometry and electrospray ionization-ion trap-mass spectrometry. Both crude venom isolated from the venom duct and injected venom obtained by milking were studied. Based on analysis of injected venom samples from individual snails, significant intraspecific variation (i.e. between individuals) in the peptide complement is observed. The mixture of peptides in injected venom is simpler than that in the crude duct venom from the same snail, and the composition of crude venom is more consistent from snail to snail. While there is animal-to-animal variation in the peptides present in the injected venom, the composition of any individual's injected venom remains relatively constant over time in captivity. Most of the Conus striatus individuals tested injected predominantly a combination of two neuroexcitatory peptides (s4a and s4b), while a few individuals had unique injected-venom profiles consisting of a combination of peptides, including several previously characterized from the venom duct of this species. Seven novel peptides were also putatively identified based on matches of their empirically derived masses to those predicted by published cDNA sequences. Profiling injected venom of Conus catus individuals using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time of flight-mass spectrometry demonstrates that intraspecific variation in the mixture of peptides extends to other species of piscivorous cone snails. The results of this study imply that novel regulatory mechanisms exist to select specific venom peptides for injection into prey.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2873-2883
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2005


  • Conotoxin
  • Conus catus
  • Conus striatus
  • Duct venom
  • Injected venom
  • Intraspecific variation
  • Liquid chromatography
  • Mass spectrometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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