Convergent evolution of plant and animal embryo defences by hyperstable non-digestible storage proteins

María Yanina Pasquevich, Marcos Sebastián Dreon, Jianwen QIU, Huawei Mu, Horacio Heras*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Plants have evolved sophisticated embryo defences by kinetically-stable non-digestible storage proteins that lower the nutritional value of seeds, a strategy that have not been reported in animals. To further understand antinutritive defences in animals, we analysed PmPV1, massively accumulated in the eggs of the gastropod Pomacea maculata, focusing on how its structure and structural stability features affected its capacity to withstand passage through predator guts. The native protein withstands >50 min boiling and resists the denaturing detergent sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS), indicating an unusually high structural stability (i.e., kinetic stability). PmPV1 is highly resistant to in vitro proteinase digestion and displays structural stability between pH 2.0-12.0 and 25-85 °C. Furthermore, PmPV1 withstands in vitro and mice digestion and is recovered unchanged in faeces, supporting an antinutritive defensive function. Subunit sequence similarities suggest a common origin and tolerance to mutations. This is the first known animal genus that, like plant seeds, lowers the nutritional value of eggs by kinetically-stable non-digestible storage proteins that survive the gut of predators unaffected. The selective pressure of the harsh gastrointestinal environment would have favoured their appearance, extending by convergent evolution the presence of plant-like hyperstable antinutritive proteins to unattended reproductive stages in animals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15848
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

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