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Small-molecule mimicry hunting strategy in the imperial cone snail, Conus imperialis

Journal Article


Abstract


  • Venomous animals hunt using bioactive peptides, but relatively little is known about venom small molecules and the resulting complex hunting behaviors. Here, we explored the specialized metabolites from the venom of the worm-hunting cone snail, Conus imperialis. Using the model polychaete worm Platynereis dumerilii, we demonstrate that C. imperialis venom contains small molecules that mimic natural polychaete mating pheromones, evoking the mating phenotype in worms. The specialized metabolites from different cone snails are species-specific and structurally diverse, suggesting that the cones may adopt many different prey-hunting strategies enabled by small molecules. Predators sometimes attract prey using the prey's own pheromones, in a strategy known as aggressive mimicry. Instead, C. imperialis uses metabolically stable mimics of those pheromones, indicating that, in biological mimicry, even the molecules themselves may be disguised, providing a twist on fake news in chemical ecology.

Publication Date


  • 2021

Citation


  • Torres, J. P., Lin, Z., Watkins, M., Salcedo, P. F., Baskin, R. P., Elhabian, S., . . . Schmidt, E. W. (2021). Small-molecule mimicry hunting strategy in the imperial cone snail, Conus imperialis. Science Advances, 7(11). doi:10.1126/SCIADV.ABF2704

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85102915259

Volume


  • 7

Issue


  • 11

Abstract


  • Venomous animals hunt using bioactive peptides, but relatively little is known about venom small molecules and the resulting complex hunting behaviors. Here, we explored the specialized metabolites from the venom of the worm-hunting cone snail, Conus imperialis. Using the model polychaete worm Platynereis dumerilii, we demonstrate that C. imperialis venom contains small molecules that mimic natural polychaete mating pheromones, evoking the mating phenotype in worms. The specialized metabolites from different cone snails are species-specific and structurally diverse, suggesting that the cones may adopt many different prey-hunting strategies enabled by small molecules. Predators sometimes attract prey using the prey's own pheromones, in a strategy known as aggressive mimicry. Instead, C. imperialis uses metabolically stable mimics of those pheromones, indicating that, in biological mimicry, even the molecules themselves may be disguised, providing a twist on fake news in chemical ecology.

Publication Date


  • 2021

Citation


  • Torres, J. P., Lin, Z., Watkins, M., Salcedo, P. F., Baskin, R. P., Elhabian, S., . . . Schmidt, E. W. (2021). Small-molecule mimicry hunting strategy in the imperial cone snail, Conus imperialis. Science Advances, 7(11). doi:10.1126/SCIADV.ABF2704

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-85102915259

Volume


  • 7

Issue


  • 11