Black Mamba Drawing

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In 2015, the proteome (complete protein profile) of black mamba venom was assessed and published, revealing 41 distinct proteins and one nucleoside. The venom is composed of two main families of toxic agents, dendrotoxins (I and K) and (at a slightly lower proportion) three-finger toxins. Dendrotoxins are akin to kunitz-type protease inhibitors that interact with voltage-dependent potassium channels, stimulating acetylcholine and causing an excitatory effect, and are thought to cause symptoms such as sweating. Member of the three-finger family include alpha-neurotoxin, cardiotoxins, fasciculins and mambalgins. The most toxic components are the alpha-neurotoxins, which bind nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and hence block the action of acetylcholine at the postsynaptic membrane and cause neuromuscular blockade and hence paralysis. Fasciculins are anticholinesterase inhibitors that cause muscle fasciculation. The venom has little or no haemolytic, haemorrhagic or procoagulant activity. Mambalgins act as inhibitors for acid-sensing ion channels in the central and peripheral nervous system, causing a pain-inhibiting effect. There is research interest in their analgesic potential.