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Marine Cone Snails

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Emma Flowers

on 2 January 2014

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Transcript of Marine Cone Snails

Marine Cone Snails
The Basics
Marine cone snails are 1 of the 500 known members of a genus called Conus. Scientifically known as Conus Geographus, these predatory snails are commonly found in the Indo-West Pacific region in reef environments. They often live in tidal waters under rocks or in mangroves. They eat worms, mollusks, and fish, and are able to find their prey by using a sisphon filtering system that allows them to sense the chemicals they excrete. When the snail finds prey, they extend a proboscis (harpoon-like arm) which secretes a paralyzing venom into the prey. This venom prevents neurological communication by inhibiting the opening of ion channels.
Cell Signaling Pathways
In terms of cell communication, the Marine Cone Snail has potent conotoxins composed of a deadly mixture of over 100 chemicals. The venom includes 12-30 amino acids made up of peptides with disulfide bonds. These toxins, which are the ligands in this pathway, affect ion channels and receptor based channels in the prey, which causes paralysis and sometimes death. Normally, the ligand attaches to either a g-protein receptor or an ion receptor, but when the venom attaches to sodium, calcium, and potassium channels, it blocks the receptor and doesn't allow it to attach to its normal substrate. If the victim survives, the venom causes the prey to lose control over its muscles because the cell responds by not finishing its task in the nervous system. The prey responds to this loss of control by paralysis.
-Allows for communication between neurons, and communcation from neurons to muscle cells
-Calcium released from presynaptic cell to postsynaptic cell which allows the calcium in through N-type channel
-Allows repetitive firing patterns
-Muscle contractions occur when the action potential releases calcium ions into sarcoplasm which then bind to the receptors
-Many mechanism-altering events occur when the prey is hit with the Marine Cone Snail venom
-Conotoxin proteins in the venom attach to ion channel active sites in the prey's cells. Sodium channels then stay open and potassium channels are blocked for up to 20 hours. This causes continual paralysis because a continuous action potential in the organism's muscle is produced that keeps them contracted
-Irreversibly blocked
-Highly specific effect
-Interferes with victim's pain signaling because the toxin blocks the calcium channels that increases action potential

Emma Flowers 2A Courtney
Correct Mechanism
Faulty Mechanism
Normal Pathway
Venom-affected Pathway
-Used to produce medicines: Ziconotide & Prialt
-Prialt was the 1st medicine made of omega conotoxins
-Prialt blocks the N-type channels in the brain, although it is reversible compared to the omega conotoxin itself
-No addiction, yet 10 times stronger than morphine
-Extremely effective because it blocks pain receptors
-Research being done to use specific chemicals from the cone snails venom to cure diseases such as epilepsy, Parkinson's, and Alzheimers
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