Harmless Digestive Enzyme Evolved Twice Into Dangerous Toxin In Two Unrelated Species

2

A harmless digestive enzyme can be turned into a toxin in two unrelated species — a shrew (pictured) and a lizard — thereby giving each a venomous bite.Biologists have shown that independent but similar molecular changes turned a harmless digestive enzyme into a toxin in two unrelated species — a shrew and a lizard — giving each a venomous bite.

The work, described this week in the journal Current Biology by researchers at Harvard University, suggests that protein adaptation may be a highly predictable process, one that could eventually help discover other toxins across a wide array of species.

“Similar changes have occurred independently in a shrew and a lizard, causing both to be toxic,” says senior author Hopi E. Hoekstra, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Natural Sciences in Harvard’s Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. “It’s remarkable that the same types of changes have independently promoted the same toxic end product.”
More

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.