Lethal factors and enzymes in the secretion from Duvernoy's gland of three colubrid snakes

Herbert I. Rosenberg*, Avner Bdolah, Elazar Kochva

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Secretion from Duvernoy's gland of the colubrid snakes Malpolon, Spalerosophis, and Thamnophis was obtained by pilocarpine stimulation and tested for lethality and selected enzymatic activities. Pools of secretion from Malpolon and Spalerosophis were fractionated by gel filtration, and several major active fractions were examined. The secretion from Malpolon had an LD50 of 6.5 μg/gm in mice; two lethal fractions with LD50's of 2.75 μg/gm and 4.5 μg/gm were isolated. One of these fractions appears to be a basic phospholipase A with a molecular weight of about 17,000. Spalerosophis had a secretion with an LD50 of 2.75 μg/gm in mice; one main lethal fraction with an LD50 of 2.5 μg/gm was isolated. Secretion from Thamnophis had an LD50 of 33.3 μg/gm; it was not fractionated owing to a paucity of material. At least two of the snake species examined have toxic secretions that may be important during feeding by killing or weakening and helping to subdue the struggling prey.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-14
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1985


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