Rapid communications in mass spectrometry : RCM vol:16 issue:8 pages:768-73
The aim of the present study was to analyze mass spectra of scorpions belonging to the genus Parabuthus (Pocock 1890) by means of matrix-assisted laser desorption time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOFMS) and to construct a species-specific venom code for species identification. The venom compositions of sixteen Parabuthus species, occurring in southern Africa, were characterized using representative peaks in the molecular mass range of 6400-8400 Da. This mass range is characteristic for the typical long-chain neurotoxins influencing sodium channels. Only a few of these peptides have been sequenced up to now. The impetus for development of these species-specific profiles was the observation of unique, highly reproducible mass spectral peaks within a specific species. An identification label for all the different species could be found using a minimum number of peaks. MALDI-TOFMS is therefore proposed as a complementary method to morphological and behavioural characteristics for species and ultimately subspecies discrimination.