Arthropod defensins illuminate the divergence of scorpion neurotoxins

Oren Froy, Michael Gurevitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Defensins are phylogenetically ancient antibacterial polypeptides found in plants and animals. Isolation of the cDNA and genomic sequences encoding the scorpion (Leiurus quinquestriatus hebraeus) defensin revealed similarity to scorpion neurotoxins in gene organization (two exons and a phase I intron) and intron characteristics (conserved acceptor, donor and putative branch sites). This commonality, alongside a similar core structure, protein sequence and bioactivity suggest that arthropod defensins and scorpion neurotoxins share a common ancestor. Interestingly, phylogenetic analysis of defensins and scorpion neurotoxins illuminates for the first time a putative evolutionary trajectory for scorpion sodium and potassium channel neurotoxins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)714-718
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Peptide Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • Ancestry
  • Defensin
  • Evolution
  • Neurotoxin
  • Scorpion


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