Regional evolution of venom-gland phospholipase A2 isoenzymes of Trimeresurus flavoviridis snakes in the southwestern islands of Japan

Takahito Chijiwa, Masanobu Deshimaru, Ikuo Nobuhisa, Makoto Nakai, Tomohisa Ogawa, Naoko Oda, Kin Ichi Nakashima, Yasuyuki Fukumaki, Yasuyuki Shimohigashi, Shosaku Hattori, Motonori Ohno

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53 Citations (Scopus)


Conventional chromatographic analysis showed that phospholipase A2 (PLA2) isoenzymes of the venom of Trimeresurus flavoviridis (Habu snake) of Okinawa island are profoundly different in composition from those of T. flavoviridis of Amami-Oshima and Tokunoshima islands. The most striking feature was that myotoxic [Lys49]PLA2 isoenzymes, called BPI and BPII, which are expressed abundantly in the venoms of Amami-Oshima and Tokunoshima T. flavoviridis, are missing from the venom of Okinawa T. flavoviridis. Northern blot analysis of Okinawa T. flavoviridis venom-gland mRNA species showed the absence of BPI and BPII mRNA species. Analysis by single-stranded conformational polymorphism-PCR of venom-gland mRNA species of T. flavoviridis from three islands, with reference to five DNA species each encoding different PLA2 isoenzymes from Tokunoshima T. flavoviridis venom gland, also suggested that BPI and BPII mRNA species are not expressed in Okinawa T. flavoviridis venom gland. In contrast, genomic Southern blot analysis with a variety of probes showed that only the bands corresponding to the upstream and downstream regions of the genes for BPI and/or BPII can be detected in Okinawa T. flavoviridis. These results suggested that the genes for BPI and BPII in Okinawa T. flavoviridis genome had been inactivated to form pseudogenes. Differently from Amami-Oshima and Tokunoshima T. flavoviridis genomic DNAs, PCR amplification of the segments of BPI and BPII genes between the 5' moiety of second exon and the middle portion of second intron failed for Okinawa T. flavoviridis genomic DNAs. In sequence analysis of the two segments involving polymorphism between BPI and BPII genes, which are located in first exon and third exon, respectively, only one base was detected at the polymorphic positions for pseudogene in Okinawa T. flavoviridis genome. Based on these facts, it became evident for pseudogene that the upstream region of BPI gene down to the 5' moiety of second exon and the downstream region of BPII gene starting from the middle portion of second intron are in a linked form with a possible insertion. Such observations suggest that venom-gland genes for PLA2 isoenzymes in T. flavoviridis snakes isolated for one to two million years have evolved independently. Their evolution is regional and seems, from several lines of consideration and observation, to be adaptive to the environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-499
Number of pages9
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2000 Apr 15


  • Adaptation
  • Chromatography
  • Gene screening
  • Pseudogene
  • Species differentiation


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