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Papers of the Week

Papers: 27 Apr 2019 - 3 May 2019

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2019 04 30

Nat Commun



Molecular dissection of box jellyfish venom cytotoxicity highlights an effective venom antidote.


Lau M-T, Manion J, Littleboy JB, Oyston L, Khuong TM, Wang Q-P, Nguyen DT, Hesselson D, Seymour JE, Neely GG
Nat Commun. 2019 04 30; 10(1):1655.
PMID: 31040274.


The box jellyfish Chironex fleckeri is extremely venomous, and envenoming causes tissue necrosis, extreme pain and death within minutes after severe exposure. Despite rapid and potent venom action, basic mechanistic insight is lacking. Here we perform molecular dissection of a jellyfish venom-induced cell death pathway by screening for host components required for venom exposure-induced cell death using genome-scale lenti-CRISPR mutagenesis. We identify the peripheral membrane protein ATP2B1, a calcium transporting ATPase, as one host factor required for venom cytotoxicity. Targeting ATP2B1 prevents venom action and confers long lasting protection. Informatics analysis of host genes required for venom cytotoxicity reveal pathways not previously implicated in cell death. We also discover a venom antidote that functions up to 15 minutes after exposure and suppresses tissue necrosis and pain in mice. These results highlight the power of whole genome CRISPR screening to investigate venom mechanisms of action and to rapidly identify new medicines.