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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014, Article ID 675985, 9 pages
Review Article

State of the Art in the Studies on Crotamine, a Cell Penetrating Peptide from South American Rattlesnake

1Laboratório de Genética, Instituto Butantan, Av. Vital Brasil, 1500 05503-900 São Paulo, SP, Brazil
2Departamento de Farmacologia, Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP), São Paulo, SP, Brazil
3Labomar-Instituto de Ciências do Mar, Universidade Federal do Ceará, Fortaleza, CE, Brazil
4Universidade Estadual da Amazônia (UEA) e Laboratório de Bioquímica e Biologia Molecular, Centro de Biotecnologia da Amazônia (CBA), Manaus, AM, Brazil

Received 15 March 2013; Revised 5 August 2013; Accepted 8 August 2013; Published 15 January 2014

Academic Editor: Marcelo Palma Sircili

Copyright © 2014 Irina Kerkis et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Animal venoms comprise a naturally selected cocktail of bioactive peptides/proteins and other molecules, each of which playing a defined role thanks to the highly specific interactions with diverse molecular targets found in the prey. Research focused on isolation, structural, and functional characterizations of novel natural biologics (bioactive peptides/proteins from natural sources) has a long way to go through from the basic science to clinical applications. Herein, we overview the structural and functional characteristics of the myoneurotoxin crotamine, firstly isolated from the South American rattlesnake venom. Crotamine is the first venom peptide classified as a natural cell penetrating and antimicrobial peptide (CPP and AMP) with a more pronounced antifungal activity. In contrast to other known natural CPPs and AMPs, crotamine demonstrates a wide spectrum of biological activities with potential biotechnological and therapeutic values. More recent studies have demonstrated the selective in vitro anticancer activity of crotamine. In vivo, using a murine melanoma model, it was shown that crotamine delays tumor implantation, inhibits tumor cells proliferation, and also increases the survival of mice engrafted with subcutaneous melanoma. The structural and functional properties and also the possible biotechnological applications of minimized molecules derived from crotamine are also discussed.