The Venom Peptides of Conus Catus
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Fish hunting cone snails in the genus Conus, are predatory organisms that use their venom to capture their prey, causing it to undergo tetanic paralysis. Conus catus, as well as many other cone snails produce a wide diversity of neuroexcitatory peptides whose function, composition, and purpose are not yet well understood but could one day revolutionize the pharmacological world. In my project, I have focused specifically on Conus catus, isolating its venom peptide sequences and comparing them to their homologous counterparts found in a similar species, Conus striatus. It has been discovered that the two most active peptides in Conus striatus, known as S4a and S4b are very similar to C4a and C4b sequences found in Conus catus, allowing us to conclude that these two species are very closely related. The catus peptide sequences were obtained by PCR amplification, cloning, and transformation of the cDNA and genomic DNA clones of the cone snails. The clones that were obtained from Conus catus are now ready to be sequenced on an Automated DNA sequencer present in the lab which will enable us to have a better understanding the evolution, activity , and target of the novel toxin sequences.