Helokinestatins 1–5 represent a novel family of bradykinin antagonist peptides originally isolated from the venom of the Gila Monster, Heloderma suspectum. We found that they were encoded in tandem along with a single copy of C-type natriuretic peptide (CNP), by two different but almost identical biosynthetic precursors that were cloned from a venom-derived cDNA library. Here we have applied the same strategy to the venom of a related species, the Mexican beaded lizard, Heloderma horridum. Lyophilised venom was used as a surrogate tissue to generate a cDNA library that was interrogated with primers from the previous study and for reverse phase HPLC fractionation. The structure of a single helokinestatin precursor was obtained following sequencing of 20 different clones. The open-reading frame contained 196 amino acid residues, somewhat greater than the 177–178 residues of the corresponding helokinestatin precursors in H. suspectum. The reason for this difference in size was the insertion of an additional domain of 18 amino acid residues encoding an additional copy of helokinestatin-3. Helokinestatin-6 (GPPFNPPPFVDYEPR) was a novel peptide from this precursor identified in venom HPLC fractions. A synthetic replicate of this peptide antagonised the relaxation effect of bradykinin on rat arterial smooth muscle. The novel peptide family, the helokinestatins, have been shown to be present in the venom of H. horridum and to be encoded by a single precursor of different structure to those from H. suspectum. Studies such as this reveal the naturally-selected structures of bioactive peptides that have been optimised for purpose and provide the scientist with a natural analogue library for pharmacological investigation.
Ma, C., Wang, L., Zhou, M., Chen, T., & Shaw, C. (2010). Molecular cloning of the helokinestatin/CNP precursor from a venom-derived cDNA library of the Mexican beaded lizard, Heloderma horridum, and identification of a novel encoded bradykinin-antagonist peptide, helokinestatin-6. Regulatory Peptides, 164, 51-51. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.regpep.2010.07.160