NATIVE AND RECOMBINANT ANIMAL TOXINS: FUNCTIONAL, STRUCTURAL AND MOLECULAR ANALYSIS
Animal venoms constitute a rich source of pharmacologically active substances. Such molecules, named toxins, act either isolated or in synergy through the binding to cell receptors and/or interfering metabolic pathways fundamental to cell viability, inducing local, systemic and even lethal damage to the victim or pray. Exploring the mechanisms of action of toxins has been relevant for providing the molecular basis of their toxicity, as well as by allowing the application of toxins in the development of new therapeutic strategies. In addition, animal toxins represent valuable tools for the elucidation of different metabolic pathways within the biological system. The present proposal aims to contribute to the mapping of new components of different snake venoms by the application of modern approaches for structural and functional characterization,and the study of plasma inhibitors of these animals. Investigating venoms from different snakes our studies will focus the characterization of molecules (proteins and peptides) that present activities on haemostasis, apoptosis, genomic stability and inflammatory processes; as well as involvement on neuroprotective, immunomodulatory,antiparasitic and antitumor effects. The application of very well established biological assays, associated to a complete characterization by the application of molecular biology, biochemical and biophysical tools, will be employed in studies of structure-function relationship, aiming not only to elucidate the toxicity mechanism, but also to explore the therapeutic potential of venom components in the development and production of new drugs.