Spooky toxin
3D structure of spooky toxin
OrganismScolopendra subspinipes mutilans

Spooky toxin (SsTx) is a small peptide neurotoxin. It is found in the venom of Chinese red-headed centipedes (Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans), also known as golden head centipedes. It is originally composed of 76 amino acids (sequence: MEKKIIFLVFLVAL LALPGFISTEVIKK DTPYKKRKFPYKSEC LKACATSFTG GDESRIQEGKPG FFKCTCYFTTG, disulfide bonds Cys43-Cys69, Cys47-Cys71), with a molecular weight of 6017.5 daltons, but loses the first 23 residues and becomes 53 residues long (sequence EVIKKDTPYKKRKFPYKSECLKACATSFTGGDESRIQEGKPGFFKCTCYFTTG, disulfide bonds Cys20-Cys46, Cys24-Cys48). SsTx is currently thought to be unique to Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans.

By blocking KCNQ channels (preventing potassium from flowing into and out of cells) SsTx disrupts cardiovascular, respiratory, muscular, and nervous systems; where snake venoms typically only affect circulatory or nervous systems, and venom from spiders, scorpions, and snails typically only target nervous systems. This allows for golden headed centipedes to target larger prey up to 15 times their size.[1]


The venom of the Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans is already being widely used as a traditional medicine in Asian countries.[2] Claimed medicinal uses include antimicrobial, antibacterial, and anticancer.[3][4][5]

See also


  1. ^ Luo L, Li B, Wang S, Wu F, Wang X, Liang P, et al. (February 2018). "Centipedes subdue giant prey by blocking KCNQ channels". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 115 (7): 1646–1651. Bibcode:2018PNAS..115.1646L. doi:10.1073/pnas.1714760115. PMC 5816164. PMID 29358396.
  2. ^ Pemberton RW (June 1999). "Insects and other arthropods used as drugs in Korean traditional medicine". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 65 (3): 207–16. doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(98)00209-8. PMID 10404418.
  3. ^ Yoo WG, Lee JH, Shin Y, Shim JY, Jung M, Kang BC, et al. (June 2014). "Antimicrobial peptides in the centipede Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans". Functional & Integrative Genomics. 14 (2): 275–83. doi:10.1007/s10142-014-0366-3. PMID 24652097. S2CID 18793966.
  4. ^ Wenhua R, Shuangquan Z, Daxiang S, Kaiya Z, Guang Y (April 2006). "Induction, purification and characterization of an antibacterial peptide scolopendrin I from the venom of centipede Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans". Indian Journal of Biochemistry & Biophysics. 43 (2): 88–93. PMID 16955756.
  5. ^ Lee JH, Kim IW, Kim SH, Kim MA, Yun EY, Nam SH, et al. (August 2015). "Anticancer Activity of the Antimicrobial Peptide Scolopendrasin VII Derived from the Centipede, Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans". Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology. 25 (8): 1275–80. doi:10.4014/jmb.1503.03091. PMID 25907065.