Sea Anemone Membrane Attack Complex/Perforin Superfamily Demonstrates an Evolutionary Transitional State between Venomous and Developmental Functions

Joachim M. Surm*, Morani Landau, Yaara Y. Columbus-Shenkar, Yehu Moran*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Gene duplication is a major force driving evolutionary innovation. A classic example is generating new animal toxins via duplication of physiological protein-encoding genes and recruitment into venom. While this process drives the innovation of many animal venoms, reverse recruitment of toxins into nonvenomous cells remains unresolved. Using comparative genomics, we find members of the Membrane Attack Complex and Perforin Family (MAC) have been recruited into venom-injecting cells (cnidocytes), in soft and stony corals and sea anemones, suggesting that the ancestral MAC was a cnidocyte expressed toxin. Further investigation into the model sea anemone Nematostella vectensis reveals that three members have undergone Nematostella-specific duplications leading to their reverse recruitment into endomesodermal cells. Furthermore, simultaneous knockdown of all three endomesodermally expressed MACs leads to mis-development, supporting that these paralogs have nonvenomous function. By resolving the evolutionary history and function of MACs in Nematostella, we provide the first proof for reverse recruitment from venom to organismal development.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbermsae082
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Volume41
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.

Keywords

  • Cnidaria
  • gene duplication
  • reverse recruitment
  • subfunctionalization
  • toxin
  • venom

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