Stings on wings
Proteotranscriptomic and biochemical profiling of the lesser banded hornet (Vespa affinis) venom
Wasp envenoming often leads to clinically severe and life-threatening manifestations, but their venom composition and activity remain unexplored in the Indian subcontinent.
We report the proteomic composition, transcriptomic profile, and biochemical and pharmacological activities of V. affinis venom from southern India.
We find that wasp venoms are rich in diverse toxins that facilitate self-defence and exhibit much higher activities than snake venom. Being an evolutionarily ancient lineage, they exhibit a greater degree of compositional and sequence conservation across distant populations/species.
In the Evolutionary Venomics Lab at the Centre for Ecological Sciences (CES), Indian Institute of Science (IISC), we investigate venomous animals and their venoms as model systems to address basic but broad questions in evolutionary biology and genetics. Using state-of-the-art technologies across multiple disciplines, we examine the fascinating evolutionary histories of the enigmatic lineages of venomous animals and their venoms.
A particular emphasis is placed on characterizing the composition, toxicity profiles and the evolutionary dynamics of venoms of the ‘big four’ snakes in India, as the lab will strive to deliver advanced antivenom with a commensurate improvement in safety, specificity, and affordability of treatment. The protein composition, and hence the pathogenic potential of venoms, can exhibit dramatic geographical variation, with different populations of the same species having starkly distinct venom profiles and, consequently, resulting in a significantly reduced antivenom efficiency. Therefore, the lab will unravel intra- and interspecific venom variability in medically significant Indian snakes and utilize this information for the molecular design of effective snakebite therapy.
The other broad aims of the lab include (a) investigating genomes, transcriptomes and proteomes of neglected venomous lineages (e.g., scorpions, spiders, centipedes, jellyfish, Hymenoptera, etc.) to understand the molecular basis of venom production, regulation, and evolutionary diversification; (b) understanding the genetic basis of venom resistance in the venomous animal and its prey/predators; (c) unravelling the evolutionary forces that have shaped the current distribution of venomous animals in the Indian subcontinent, and (d) investigating the therapeutic potential of venom proteins.
Our research is funded by...
DBT-IISc Partnership Program for Advanced Research in Biological Sciences and BioEngineering
Kartik has been awarded Professor Har Swarup Memorial Award from INSA
Senji wins the best oral presentation award for ECRs at the International Society for Toxinology 2022 in Abu Dhabi!