A Comparative Analysis of the Venom System between Two Morphotypes of the Sea Anemone Actinia equina

Maria Alcaide, Inês Moutinho Cabral, Lara Carvalho, Vera M. Mendes, António P. Alves de Matos, Bruno Manadas, Leonor Saúde, Mariaelena D’Ambrosio, Pedro M. Costa

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The current study investigates the venom-delivery system of green and red morphotypes of the sea anemone Actinia equina to disclose its potential as a source of bioactive compounds. We compared the two morphotypes using electron and optical microscopy, proteomics, and toxicity assessment on zebrafish embryos. Specialized venom-injecting cells (nematocysts) are equally distributed and found in the tentacles of both varieties. Proteomics revealed proteins of interest in both red and green Actinia, yielding the three most abundant Gene Ontology (GO) terms related to the biological processes “proteolysis”, “hemolysis in another organism” and “lipid catabolic process”. Neurotoxins and cytolytic toxins similar to known cnidarian toxins like PsTX-60A and AvTX-60A, for instance, were identified in both types. Extracts from green and red anemones were toxic to zebrafish embryos, with green anemone venom appearing to be more potent. The findings highlight the presence of proteinaceous toxins in A. equina and the potential for different varieties to possess distinct bioactive compounds. Notably, pore-forming toxins are suggested for molecular probes and immunotoxins, making them valuable assets for potential biotechnological and biomedical purposes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number981
Number of pages17
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2024


  • bioinformatics
  • cnidaria
  • electron microscopy
  • histology
  • marine bioprospecting
  • proteomics
  • toxicity
  • toxins


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