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Cone snail species off the Brazilian coast and their venoms: a review and update

Helena B. Fiorotti1,2, Suely G. Figueiredo2, Fabiana V. Campos1,2, Daniel C. Pimenta1 [ + show more ]

J Venom Anim Toxins incl Trop Dis, 2023, 29:e20220052
Received: 15 August 2022 | Accepted: 14 December 2022 | Published online: 27 January 2023


The genus Conus includes over 900 species of marine invertebrates known as cone snails, whose venoms are among the most powerful described so far. This potency is mainly due to the concerted action of hundreds of small bioactive peptides named conopeptides, which target different ion channels and membrane receptors and thus interfere with crucial physiological processes. By swiftly harpooning and injecting their prey and predators with such deadly cocktails, the slow-moving cone snails guarantee their survival in the harsh, competitive marine environment. Each cone snail species produces a unique venom, as the mature sequences of conopeptides from the venoms of different species share very little identity. This biochemical diversity, added to the numerous species and conopeptides contained in their venoms, results in an immense biotechnological and therapeutic potential, still largely unexplored. That is especially true regarding the bioprospection of the venoms of cone snail species found off the Brazilian coast - a region widely known for its biodiversity. Of the 31 species described in this region so far, only four - Conus cancellatusConus regiusConus villepinii, and Conus ermineus - have had their venoms partially characterized, and, although many bioactive molecules have been identified, only a few have been actually isolated and studied. In addition to providing an overview on all the cone snail species found off the Brazilian coast to date, this review compiles the information on the structural and pharmacological features of conopeptides and other molecules identified in the venoms of the four aforementioned species, paving the way for future studies.


Keywords: Conus; Cone snail; Brazilian coast; Venom; Conopeptides; Conotoxins.

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