Lead Chief Investigator: Glenn King, The University of Queensland
Collaborating Chief Investigators: Kathy Belov, Richard Payne, David Fairlie, Sonia Henriques
Australia is home to some of the world’s most iconic venomous vertebrates, including the platypus and inland taipan. It is also home to a far greater diversity of venomous invertebrates, some of which are iconic (e.g., the funnel-web spider, box jellyfish and blue-ringed octopus), while other are less well known but equally valuable from both a fundamental science and translational perspective (e.g., assassin bugs, caterpillars, centipedes, scorpions, and parasitoid wasps). This project aims to use a holistic venomics approach that combines genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and structural biology to explore the diversity of peptide toxins in venomous invertebrates endemic to Australia. A battery of in vitro, ex vivo and in vitro functional assays will be employed to explore the activity of these toxins with a view to potential translational applications. Where appropriate, silk proteins will also be explored for potential biotechnological applications. We anticipate that this project will provide leads for drug and insecticide development, facilitate the development of new and improved antivenoms, and advance our understanding of venom and silk evolution.
Relevance to the Centre
This project aligns with the Centre’s vision of discovering novel bioactive peptides from Nature. The project requires extensive collaboration between the labs of CIs King, Belov, Fairlie, and Payne, as well as key external collaborators. Enhanced knowledge of the diversity of venom and silk proteins will provide leads for drug and insecticide development, facilitate the development of new and improved antivenoms, and advance our understanding of venom and silk evolution. While this is primarily a Discover project, it will provide a pipeline of novel peptide and proteins for further characterisation in the Decode and Develop themes.