In Cnidaria, the production of neurotoxic polypeptides is attributed to the ectodermal stinging cells (cnidocytes), which are discharged for offensive (prey capture) and/or defensive purposes. In this study, a new paralysis-inducing (neurotoxic) protein from the green hydra Chlorohydra viridissima was purified, cloned, and expressed. This paralytic protein is unique in that it (1) is derived from a noncnidocystic origin, (2) reveals a clear animal group-selective toxicity, (3) possesses an uncommon primary structure, remindful of pore-forming toxins, and (4) has a fast cytotoxic effect on insect cells but not on the tested mammalian cells. The possible biological role of such a noncnidocystic toxin is discussed.
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