Molecular cloning and deduced organization of the pHpG/CNP precursor from the venom of the African forest viper, Atheris squamigera

H. Wang, Lei Wang, Mei Zhou, Tianbao Chen, Christopher Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The discovery that the hypotensive sequela of envenomation by the South American viper, Bothrops jararaca, was mediated by peptides, represented a milestone in drug discovery research that led to the introduction of ACE inhibitors. These bradykinin-potentiating peptides (BPPs) have been found in the venoms of many species of viper and molecular cloning of biosynthetic precursors has revealed that each encodes several different BPPs in tandem with a single copy of a C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP) located at the C-terminus. Venoms of the African forest vipers (Atheris) have been poorly studied possibly because they do not represent a major danger to humans. However, initial studies have indicated that they contain some of the “classical” protein toxins of viper venoms and a novel class of peptide, the polyglycine/polyhistidine (pGpH) peptides. These peptides occur in several molecular forms with different numbers of repetitive glycine and histidine repeats. We have cloned the biosynthetic precursor of A. squamigera pGpH peptides from a venom-derived cDNA library and have confirmed that a single copy of CNP is located at the C-terminus and additionally that, like BPPs in other vipers, pGpH peptides are encoded in tandem within this single precursor. Solid phase peptide synthesis of pGpH peptides has proven to be extremely difficult but is progressing and acquisition of synthetic replicates of each peptide is a necessary prerequisite for systematic pharmacological characterisation as establishment of a biological function for these peptides remains elusive. pGpH peptides may prove to play a role as fundamental as that of the BPPs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-35
Number of pages1
JournalRegulatory Peptides
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010


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