In this study, we investigated the mitotic and meiotic chromosomes of 11 Buthidae scorpion species, belonging to three genera (Ananteris, Rhopalurus and Tityus), to obtain detailed knowledge regarding the mechanisms underlying the intraspecific and/or interspecific diversity of chromosome number and the origin of the complex chromosome associations observed during meiosis. The chromosomes of all species did not exhibit a localised centromere region and presented synaptic and achiasmatic behaviour during meiosis I. Spermatogonial and/or oogonial metaphase cells of these buthids showed diploid numbers range from 2n = 6 to 2n = 28. In most species, multivalent chromosome associations were observed in pachytene and postpachytene nuclei. Moreover, intraspecific variability associated with the presence or absence of chromosome chains and the number of chromosomes in the complex meiotic configurations was observed in some species of these three genera. Silver-impregnated cells revealed that the number and location of nucleolar organiser regions (NORs) remained unchanged despite extensive chromosome variation; notably, two NORs located on the terminal or subterminal chromosome regions were commonly observed for all species. C-banded and fluorochrome-stained cells showed that species with conspicuous blocks of heterochromatin exhibited the lowest rate of chromosomal rearrangement. Based on the investigation of mitotic and meiotic cells, we determined that the intraspecific variability occurred as a consequence of fission/fusion-type chromosomal rearrangements in Ananteris and Tityus species and reciprocal translocation in Rhopalurus species. Furthermore, we verified that individuals presenting the same diploid number differ in structural chromosome organisation, giving rise to intraspecific differences of chromosome association in meiotic cells (bivalent-like elements or chromosome chains).
Scorpion venom is a mixture of peptides, including antimicrobial, bradykinin-potentiating and anionic peptides and small to medium proteins, such as ion channel toxins, metalloproteinases and phospholipases that together cause severe clinical manifestation. Tityus bahiensis is the second most medically important scorpion species in Brazil and it is widely distributed in the country with the exception of the North Region. Here we sequenced and analyzed the transcripts from the venom glands of T. bahiensis, aiming at identifying and annotating venom gland expressed genes. A total of 116,027 long reads were generated by pyrosequencing and assembled in 2891 isotigs. An annotation process identified transcripts by similarity to known toxins, revealing that putative venom components represent 7.4% of gene expression. The major toxins identified are potassium and sodium channel toxins, whereas metalloproteinases showed an unexpected high abundance. Phylogenetic analysis of deduced metalloproteinases from T. bahiensis and other scorpions revealed a pattern of ancient and intraspecific gene expansions. Other venom molecules identified include antimicrobial, anionic and bradykinin-potentiating peptides, besides several putative new venom components. This report provides the first attempt to massively identify the venom components of this species and constitutes one of the few transcriptomic efforts on the genus Tityus.
BackgroundExcept for the northern region, where the Amazonian black scorpion, T. obscurus, represents the predominant and most medically relevant scorpion species, Tityus serrulatus, the Brazilian yellow scorpion, is widely distributed throughout Brazil, causing most envenoming and fatalities due to scorpion sting. In order to evaluate and compare the diversity of venom components of Tityus obscurus and T. serrulatus, we performed a transcriptomic investigation of the telsons (venom glands) corroborated by a shotgun proteomic analysis of the venom from the two species.ResultsThe putative venom components represented 11.4% and 16.7% of the total gene expression for T. obscurus and T. serrulatus, respectively. Transcriptome and proteome data revealed high abundance of metalloproteinases sequences followed by sodium and potassium channel toxins, making the toxin core of the venom. The phylogenetic analysis of metalloproteinases from T. obscurus and T. serrulatus suggested an intraspecific gene expansion, as we previously observed for T. bahiensis, indicating that this enzyme may be under evolutionary pressure for diversification. We also identified several putative venom components such as anionic peptides, antimicrobial peptides, bradykinin-potentiating peptide, cysteine rich protein, serine proteinases, cathepsins, angiotensin-converting enzyme, endothelin-converting enzyme and chymotrypsin like protein, proteinases inhibitors, phospholipases and hyaluronidases.ConclusionThe present work shows that the venom composition of these two allopatric species of Tityus are considerably similar in terms of the major classes of proteins produced and secreted, although their individual toxin sequences are considerably divergent. These differences at amino acid level may reflect in different epitopes for the same protein classes in each species, explaining the basis for the poor recognition of T. obscurus venom by the antiserum raised against other species.
Mitotic and meiotic chromosomes of Tityus bahiensis were investigated using light (LM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to determine the chromosomal characteristics and disclose the mechanisms responsible for intraspecific variability in chromosome number and for the presence of complex chromosome association during meiosis. This species is endemic to Brazilian fauna and belongs to the family Buthidae, which is considered phylogenetically basal within the order Scorpiones. In the sample examined, four sympatric and distinct diploid numbers were observed: 2n = 5, 2n = 6, 2n = 9, and 2 = 10. The origin of this remarkable chromosome variability was attributed to chromosome fissions and/or fusions, considering that the decrease in chromosome number was concomitant with the increase in chromosome size and vice versa. The LM and TEM analyses showed the presence of chromosomes without localised centromere, the lack of chiasmata and recombination nodules in male meiosis, and two nucleolar organiser regions carrier chromosomes. Furthermore, male prophase I cells revealed multivalent chromosome associations and/or unsynapsed or distinctly associated chromosome regions (gaps, less-condensed chromatin, or loop-like structure) that were continuous with synapsed chromosome segments. All these data permitted us to suggest that the chromosomal rearrangements of T. bahiensis occurred in a heterozygous state. A combination of various factors, such as correct disjunction and balanced segregation of the chromosomes involved in complex meiotic pairing, system of achiasmate meiosis, holocentric nature of the chromosomes, population structure, and species dispersion patterns, could have contributed to the high level of chromosome rearrangements present in T. bahiensis.
The order Scorpiones is one of the most cytogenetically interesting groups within Arachnida by virtue of the combination of chromosome singularities found in the 59 species analyzed so far. In this work, mitotic and meiotic chromosomes of 2 species of the family Bothriuridae were detailed. This family occupies a basal position within the superfamily Scorpionoidea. Furthermore, review of the cytogenetic data of all previously studied scorpions is presented. Light microscopy chromosome analysis showed that Bothriurus araguayae and Bothriurus rochensis possess low diploid numbers compared with those of species belonging to closely related families. Gonadal cells examined under light and in transmission electron microscopy revealed, for the first time, that the Bothriuridae species possess typical monocentric chromosomes, and male meiosis presented chromosomes with synaptic and achiasmatic behavior. Moreover, in the sample of B. araguayae studied, heterozygous translocations were verified. The use of techniques to highlight specific chromosomal regions also revealed additional differences between the 2 Bothriurus species. The results herein recorded and the overview elaborated using the available cytogenetic information of Scorpiones elucidated current understanding regarding the processes of chromosome evolution that have occurred in Bothriuridae and in Scorpiones as a whole.
This paper provides the description of a new species in the genus Zabius Thorell (Scorpiones, Buthidae), Z. gaucho n. sp., from four localities in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. It differs from Zabius fuscus (Thorell 1 877) and Z. birabeni Mello-Leitao 1938 in details of the telson shape, the longitudinal carinae on mesosomal tergites II-VI, and the number of pectinal teeth. The genus was hitherto known only from Argentina, Z. fuscus being a frequent inhabitant of the central Sierras; Z. birabeni , in turn, is probably a rare and non-orophilous scorpion, collected in scattered localities on the monte/chaco ecotone and in northern Patagonia. The presence of a species of Zabius in southern Brazil lends additional support to the generalized distributional track known as "peripampasic track," which zoogeographically links the central Sierras Pampeanas with ancient mountains in the southern province of Buenos Aires, southeastern Uruguay and southern Brazil.
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