Attacked fish turn into sitting ducks as blood sugar drops
Courtesy of Jason Biggs and Baldomero Olivera
Fish-hunting cone snails release insulin that can work as a weapon, sending nearby prey’s blood sugar plummeting and making the groggy fish easy for a less-than-speedy snail to catch.
This is the first insulin discovered in the complex venom brews that cone snails produce, says biochemist Helena Safavi-Hemami of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. She and colleagues found the insulin during a standard screen of venom genes from two cone snail species (Conus geographusand C. tulipa). Instead of being a version of the compound that regulates mollusk metabolism, it seemed to be a version more likely to affect fish, they report January 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.