Author(s): Fletcher JE, Jiang MS
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Abstract Cobra snake venom cardiotoxins and bee venom melittin share a number of pharmacological properties in intact tissues including hemolysis, cytolysis, contractures of muscle, membrane depolarization and activation of tissue phospholipase C and, to a far lesser extent, an arachidonic acid-associated phospholipase A2. The toxins have also been demonstrated to open the Ca2+ release channel (ryanodine receptor) and alter the activity of the Ca(2+)+Mg(2+)-ATPase in isolated sarcoplasmic reticulum preparations derived from cardiac or skeletal muscle. However, a relationship of these actions in isolated organelles to contracture induction has not yet been established. The toxins also bind to and, in some cases, alter the function of a number of other proteins in disrupted tissues. The most difficult tasks in understanding the mechanism of action of these toxins have been dissociating the primary from secondary effects and distinguishing between effects that only occur in disrupted tissues and those that occur in intact tissue. The use of cardiotoxin and melittin fractions contaminated with trace ('undetectable') amounts of venom-derived phospholipases A2 has continued to be common practice, despite the problems associated with the synergism between the toxins and enzymes and the availability of methods to overcome this problem. With adequate precautions taken with regard to methodology and interpretation of results, the cobra venom cardiotoxins and bee venom melittin may prove to be useful probes of a number of cell processes, including lipid metabolism and Ca2+ regulation in skeletal and cardiac muscle.
This article was published in Toxicon
and referenced in Journal of Diabetes & Metabolism