Human Could Become Venomous Like Snakes In Future
New research has discovered the first direct proof that venomous glands stemmed from early salivary glands.
The study, written by Alexander S. Mikheyev and Agneesh Bharua, Ecology & Evolution Unit, Okinawa Institute of Science & Technology, Japan, discovered that snakes and mammals share a group of genes that are similarly controlled and show similar activities regardless of various functionalities.
The study provides an important hint for the understanding of the development of oral venom systems and infer that the metavenom web of genes is conserved throughout all 4-limbed vertebrates, even mammals, birds, and reptiles, and hence is possible to have stemmed from a common progenitor.
The article related to the study have been published in the PNAS journal.
Evolution of venom gland
To comprehend the development of the poison gland, the group decided to explore GRN (Gene Regulatory Networks) that are linked with toxin production rather than concentrating on the development of venom itself.
Such regulatory networks are composed of a team of genetic molecules of protein, RNA, or DNA that serve as regulators and manage the degree to which genes are translated-the means by which they produce proteins or mRNA-which act to ascertain the cell’s functionality.
Through this evaluation, they found the metavenom network, the group of genes, all linked with venom production. These comprise around 38 to 3,380 genes.
The scientists eventually discovered that the same network of genes was even found throughout the existing genomes of animals such as humans, frogs, dogs, mice, and chimps.
These genes served a crucial function in shielding the cells from the stress due to excessive production of the protein that poison is a mixture of.
The genes were additionally accountable for protein folding wherein long amino acid chains should form folds in a particular manner to give stability so that protein can function.
Barua, the main writer of the article mentioned ThePrint that one of the most crucial outcomes for them was that the molecular structure that snakes employ to make poison is also found in the salivary glands of other non-poisonous animals such as humans and mice.
He included that this similarity imparts the possible presence in common ancestors as it is shared by such distantly associated animals. Therefore, while evolution has led to the development of the oral venom system in just some animals, the inherent ability is present in many.
Importance of findings
The outcomes are important since they provide the first verification to an intuitively considered theory that salivary glands and poison gland are controlled by the identical mechanism and function similarly, and that the venom gland evolved from the salivary glands.
Moreover, the presence of venomous mammals such as vampire bats, solenodons, and shrews, demonstrate that the same mechanism can potentially be reused for venomous uses under the appropriate evolutionary incidences.
The author stated that these similarities impart repeated acceptance of shared molecular mechanisms for the development of oral venoms in reptiles and mammals, fading the line between truly poisonous animals and their progenitors.
The results are ripe for additional study and investigation.
Barua while explaining the research process claimed that the similarities between mammals and reptiles were remarkable, and that unfolded more complicated things.
The research author also said that while studying literature, they discovered experiments from the year 1980s concerning how few mice have more venomous saliva compared to others. While these were rough calculations and done years back, it appears to propose that there may be few vertebrates that actually have the power discussed above. Hence, as a next step, they are going to attempt and breed poisonous mice.
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