What is it about?

Proteomic analyses present a list of proteins hitherto unidentified from the venom of fire ant Solenopsis invicta workers. About 46 proteins are identified, of which only 4 allergens were previously known. The list includes a number of neurotoxins structurally related to other snake and arthropod toxins, plus potential allergens, enzymes, and self-protective components. Among the latter a PLA2 inhibitor and antioxidants were identified. Enzymatic activities were also pilot-tested as presented in the Supplementary results.

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Why is it important?

This is the first venom proteomic analysis of a fire ant venom. The fire ants are aggressive insects of worldly importance, because of their outstanding invasive capacity. Hundreds of people around the world perish from allergy to fire ant stings, out of millions of accidents, per annum. Efficient immunotherapy strategies rely on precise knowledge about the venom composition of these ants. This study has added dozens of novel venom proteins to a list of merely 4 known allergens, determined over 20 years ago. It is a landmark study in the field.

Perspectives

This project was a main part of my PhD thesis, which can be found elsewhere as given in resources below. I was honoured to work alongside the team at Palma's lab at CEIS / UNESP, on such fascinating ants. Furthermore, this study was central to my career , providing insights into my forthcoming methods and projects on fire ant venoms. Particularly regarding the design of a novel method for venom extraction (see resources), discovered accidentally during procedures. A main drawback, remained, however. Readers will notice that raw chromatograms and spectra were not disclosed by the senior authors at the time. This generated a discussion which culminated with my personal request to figure as 2nd author on a manuscript which I originally wrote. I intend to mend this gap in the near future, where further proteomic investigations into this and related venoms will result in an open database for fire ant venom peptides. Stay tuned!..

Dr Eduardo G P Fox
IBCCF / UFRJ

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This page is a summary of: Proteomic View of the Venom from the Fire Ant Solenopsis invicta Buren, Journal of Proteome Research, August 2012, American Chemical Society (ACS), DOI: 10.1021/pr300451g.
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