Background: South American rattlesnakes are represented in Brazil by a single species, Crotalus durissus, which has public health importance due to the severity of its envenomation and to its wide geographical distribution. The species is subdivided into several subspecies, but the current classification is controversial. In Brazil, the venoms of C. d. terrificus and C. d. collilineatus are used for hyperimmunization of horses for antivenom production, even though the distinction of these two subspecies are mostly by their geographical distribution. In this context, we described a comparative compositional and functional characterization of individual C. d. collilineatus and C. d. terrificus venoms from three Brazilian states. Methods: We compared the compositional patterns of C. d. terrificus and C. d. collilineatus individual venoms by 1-DE and RP-HPLC. For functional analyzes, the enzymatic activities of PLA2, LAAO, and coagulant activity were evaluated. Finally, the immunorecognition of venom toxins by the crotalic antivenom produced at Butantan Institute was evaluated using Western blotting. Results: The protein profile of individual venoms from C. d. collilineatus and C. d. terrificus showed a comparable overall composition, despite some intraspecific variation, especially regarding crotamine and LAAO. Interestingly, HPLC analysis showed a geographic pattern concerning PLA2. In addition, a remarkable intraspecific variation was also observed in PLA2, LAAO and coagulant activities. The immunorecognition pattern of individual venoms from C. d. collilineatus and C. d. terrificus by crotalic antivenom produced at Butantan Institute was similar. Conclusions: The results highlighted the individual variability among the venoms of C. durissus ssp. specimens. Importantly, our data point to a geographical variation of C. durissus ssp. venom profile, regardless of the subspecies, as evidenced by PLA2 isoforms complexity, which may explain the increase in venom neurotoxicity from Northeastern through Southern Brazil reported for the species.
Keywords Intraspecific venom variability; Geographic venom variability; Crotalus durissus collilineatus; Crotalus durissus terrificus; Snake venom composition and function.