Pharmacology of predatory and defensive venom peptides in cone snails
Cone snails are predatory gastropods whose neurotoxic venom peptides (conotoxins) have been extensively studied for pharmacological probes, venom evolution mechanisms and potential therapeutics. Conotoxins have a wide range of structural and functional classes that continue to undergo accelerated evolution that underlies the rapid expansion of the genus over their short evolutionary history. A number of pharmacological classes, driven by separately evolved defensive and predatory venoms, have been hypothesised to facilitate shifts in prey that exemplify the adaptability of cone snails. Here we provide an overview of these pharmacological families and discuss their ecological roles and evolutionary impact.