This article is free to access.
Background: Arthropod venoms are invaluable sources of bioactive substances with biotechnological application. The limited availability of some venoms, such as those from ants, has restricted the knowledge about the composition and the potential that these biomolecules could represent. In order to provide a global insight on the transcripts expressed in the venom gland of the Brazilian ant species Tetramorium bicarinatum and to unveil the potential of its products, high-throughput approach using Illumina technology has been applied to analyze the genes expressed in active venom glands of this ant species. Results: A total of 212,371,758 pairs of quality-filtered, 100-base-pair Illumina reads were obtained. The de novo assemblies yielded 36,042 contigs for which 27,873 have at least one predicted ORF among which 59.77% produce significant hits in the available databases. The investigation of the reads mapping toxin class revealed a high diversification with the major part consistent with the classical hymenopteran venom protein signature represented by venom allergen (33.3%), followed by a diverse toxin-expression profile including several distinct isoforms of phospholipase A1 and A2, venom serine protease, hyaluronidase, protease inhibitor and secapin. Moreover, our results revealed for the first time the presence of toxin-like peptides that have been previously identified from unrelated venomous animals such as waprin-like (snakes) and agatoxins (spiders and conus). The non-toxin transcripts were mainly represented by contigs involved in protein folding and translation, consistent with the protein-secretory function of the venom gland tissue. Finally, about 40% of the generated contigs have no hits in the databases with 25% of the predicted peptides bearing signal peptide emphasizing the potential of the investigation of these sequences as source of new molecules. Among these contigs, six putative novel peptides that show homologies with previously identified antimicrobial peptides were identified. Conclusions: To the best of our knowledge, this work reports the first large-scale analysis of genes transcribed by the venomous gland of the ant species T. bicarinatum and helps with the identification of Hymenoptera toxin arsenal. In addition, results from this study demonstrate that de novo transcriptome assembly allows useful venom gene expression analysis in a species lacking a genome sequence database.
Bouzid, W., Verdenaud, M., Klopp, C., Ducancel, F., Noirot, C., & Vétillard, A. (2014). De Novo sequencing and transcriptome analysis for tetramorium bicarinatum: A comprehensive venom gland transcriptome analysis from an ant species. BMC Genomics, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2164-15-987