Neuromuscular Activity and Prey Specificity of North American Coral Snake Venoms: Micrurus browni as a Case Study
Instituto de Biotecnología
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas
Universidad Autónoma del Estado de Morelos
Coral snake venoms, as well as most animal venoms, are generally studied for their potential relevance on human health and very rarely from a biological point of view. The present study focuses on the biological role of venom for North American coral snakes of the genus Micrurus. Analyzing the biochemical composition of these venoms, we have described a great complexity that is rarely observed on the much more studied South American Micrurus species. Prey specificity has been described for many of them, which have been shown to be as many as 40 times more lethal to prey species than to mice. The case of North American species appears to be very different. In this work, we present the biological and biochemical characterization of the venom from Micrurus browni, a coral snake from Chiapas, Mexico. Interestingly, even though the diet of M. browni diet is almost exclusively composed of snakes, this venom shows no obvious specificity towards them. Also, an analysis of its neuromuscular activity on a murine phrenic nerve – hemi-diaphragm preparation is presented, showing an interesting combination of both pre- and postsynaptic acting toxins.