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Deep sequencing investigation of snake genomes


Inácio de Loiola Meirelles Junqueira de Azevedo

Introduction - Decades of investigation on snake venoms made major contributions to several fields of biomedical and biological sciences, such as pharmacology, immunology and evolutionary biology. Most of these studies relied on traditional biochemistry and molecular biology approaches, which led to discoveries of many important molecules. However, in the present era of genomics, little is known about the genomes of snake. Thus, an important knowledge on the biology and evolution of these animals is limited. Especially in the context of the study of toxins, the absence of a genomic background limits the understanding of diversification of components in the venom . Specific aspects of these genes, such as exon shuffling and retrotransposition movements are difficult to understand without this framework . This absence of a genomic base also affect the use of the latest technologies of molecular research, since the existence of reference genomes is a requirement for many modern methods of analysis. For example, preoteomic identification based on mass spectrometry aiming at a precise characterization of new molecules requires a database of genetic sequences; investigation of the expression of regulatory genes in venom glands requires a previous knowledge of the genes for the designing probes and primers for qPCR or for the correct mapping of RNAseq data; the identification of microRNAs and their targets is also restricted, among many other applications. The sequencing of snake genomes seems to be appropriate, strategically, for these various purposes .

General aim - To sequence, with a high coverage, genomes of Brazilian snakes for obtaining genomic scaffolds that make possible investigations focusing on toxin genes and other relevant elements for understanding the venom system, its evolution and the snake biology.

Expected results: We expect to supply the demand for genome sequences from the main Brazilain snakes with enough quality to obtain sets of contigs and scaffolds. This will allow us to retrieve the structure of important toxin genes, including their introns and flanking regions. We will be able to investigate the conservation between gene promoters of different families of toxins and the relationship of orthologous, paralogous and edited forms of toxin gene products found in venoms. The correlation with our previously generated data on snake transcriptomes will allow the identification of expressed elements and to check putative roles of retrotransposons on the venom system. In addition, the establishment of a lab facility with expertise in NGS genomics and its analysis will foster other researches from CeTICS and other areas from I. Butantan.


Solange Maria de Toledo SerranoPrincipal InvestigatorAssociate Investigator* (* in this subproject)
Ana Maria Moura da SilvaAssociate Investigator
Milton Yutaka Nishiyama JuniorAssociate Investigator
Paulo Lee HoAssociate Investigator
Úrsula Castro de OliveiraPostdoctoral fellow
Diego Dantas AlmeidaPhD Student
Vincent VialaPostdoctoral fellow


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