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Venom gland organogenesis in the common house spider

Hassan, Afrah; Blakeley, Grace; McGregor, Alistair P.; Zancolli, Giulia

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Afrah Hassan

Grace Blakeley

Giulia Zancolli


Venom is a remarkable innovation found across the animal kingdom, yet the evolutionary origins of venom systems in various groups, including spiders, remain enigmatic. Here, we investigated the organogenesis of the venom apparatus in the common house spider, Parasteatoda tepidariorum. The venom apparatus consists of a pair of secretory glands, each connected to an opening at the fang tip by a duct that runs through the chelicerae. We performed bulk RNA-seq to identify venom gland-specific markers and assayed their expression using RNA in situ hybridisation experiments on whole-mount time-series. These revealed that the gland primordium emerges during embryonic stage 13 at the chelicera tip, progresses proximally by the end of embryonic development and extends into the prosoma post-eclosion. The initiation of expression of an important toxin component in late postembryos marks the activation of venom-secreting cells. Our selected markers also exhibited distinct expression patterns in adult venom glands: sage and the toxin marker were expressed in the secretory epithelium, forkhead and sum-1 in the surrounding muscle layer, while Distal-less was predominantly expressed at the gland extremities. Our study provides the first comprehensive analysis of venom gland morphogenesis in spiders, offering key insights into their evolution and development.


Hassan, A., Blakeley, G., McGregor, A. P., & Zancolli, G. (2024). Venom gland organogenesis in the common house spider. Scientific Reports, 14(1), Article 15379.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 19, 2024
Online Publication Date Jul 4, 2024
Publication Date Jul 4, 2024
Deposit Date Jul 10, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jul 10, 2024
Journal Scientific Reports
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 1
Article Number 15379
Keywords Developmental origins, Toxins, Spiders, HCR, Evolutionary innovation
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