The kallikrein-like activity of Heloderma venom is inhibited by carbon monoxide

Research paper by Vance G. Nielsen, Nathaniel Frank

Indexed on: 19 Jun '19Published on: 06 Apr '19Published in: Journal of Thrombosis and Thrombolysis


Lizards in the genus Heloderma are the most ancient venomous reptiles, with a traceable lineage nearly 100 million years old. The proteome of the venom of three of the remaining species (Heloderma suspectum, H. exasperatum, H. horridum) are very conserved, with kallikrein-like activity present to cause critical hypotension to immobilize and outright kill prey. Kallikrein-like activity would be expected to activate the contact protein pathway of coagulation, which would be detectable with thrombelastography in human plasma. Thus, it was proposed to determine if kallikrein-like activity could be detected with thrombelastography, and if this activity could be inhibited by carbon monoxide (CO) via a putative heme-based mechanism. Procoagulant activity of each venom was assessed via thrombelastography with normal plasma, and kallikrein-like activity confirmed with FX-depleted plasma. Venom was then exposed to carbon monoxide releasing molecule-2 (CORM-2) or its inactive releasing molecule to assess CO inhibition. All three venoms demonstrated kallikrein-like activity with the same potency and inhibition of activity by CO. In conclusion, the present work documented that procoagulant, kallikrein-like activity containing venoms of the oldest species of venomous reptiles was inhibited by CO, potentially via heme modulation. This is also the first identification and characterization of a kallikrein-like enzyme utilizing coagulation factor-depleted plasma to assess venom that inflicts hypotension. Future investigations will continue to define the vulnerability of venom enzymatic activities to CO.