Small serum proteins (SSPs) are low-molecular-weight proteins in snake serum with affinities for various venom proteins. Five SSPs, PfSSP-1 through PfSSP-5, have been reported in Protobothrops flavoviridis (“habu”, Pf) serum so far. Recently, we reported that the five genes encoding these PfSSPs are arranged in tandem on a single chromosome. However, the physiological functions and evolutionary origins of the five SSPs remain poorly understood. In a detailed analysis of the habu draft genome, we found a gene encoding a novel SSP, SSP-6. Structural analysis of the genes encoding SSPs and their genomic arrangement revealed the following: (1) SSP-6 forms a third SSP subgroup; (2) SSP-5 and SSP-6 were present in all snake genomes before the divergence of nonvenomous and venomous snakes, while SSP-4 was acquired only by venomous snakes; (3) the composition of paralogous SSP genes in snake genomes seems to reflect snake habitat differences; and (4) the evolutionary emergence of SSP genes is probably related to the physiological functions of SSPs, with an initial snake repertoire of SSP-6 and SSP-5. SSP-4 and its derivative, SSP-3, as well as SSP-1 and SSP-2, appear to be venom-related and were acquired later.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis