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Sat Aug 27, 2016, 06:39 AM

Why the honey badger doesn't care about cobra venom.

It’s official: Honey badger don’t care. This “crazy nasty-ass” critter—the subject of a National Geographic documentary transformed into a viral meme through satirical overdubbing—“really don’t give a shit.” Not about snarky documentaries, not about stinging bees, and especially not about venomous snakes.

Venomous snakes kill up to 94,000 people every year, on top of the millions of other animals that make up their diet. And death by venomous snakebite isn’t pretty: The toxins in venom can paralyze muscles, break down tissue, and even make victims bleed uncontrollably.

So why don’t honey badgers care about venoms that can kill almost any other animal?

Danielle Drabeck, a University of Minnesota grad student, wanted to study this question on a molecular level, but she ran into a problem: Honey badgers aren't found in Minnesota or even the Western Hemisphere, but only in Africa, the Middle East, and India.


Biology Finally Explains Why Honey Badger Don’t Care

My boys love that "Honey Badger Doesn't Give A Shit" video, and I came across it, and wondered how they got away with eating cobras. It appears that they, mongooses, and surprisingly pigs, all have mutations in the protein binding site in the cobra neurotoxin receptor.

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Reply Why the honey badger doesn't care about cobra venom. (Original post)
NNadir Aug 2016 OP
yuiyoshida Aug 2016 #1
Judi Lynn Aug 2016 #3
vlakitti Aug 2016 #2
NNadir Aug 2016 #4
Wilms Aug 2016 #5
Brother Buzz Aug 2016 #6
NNadir Aug 2016 #7

Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sat Aug 27, 2016, 07:05 AM

1. RANDALL

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Response to yuiyoshida (Reply #1)

Sun Aug 28, 2016, 08:47 AM

3. Wow. Never knew about Randall! Thanks for the video.

[center] [/center]

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sat Aug 27, 2016, 04:21 PM

2. What Darwin said about

natural selection. Very effective.

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Response to vlakitti (Reply #2)

Sun Aug 28, 2016, 10:51 AM

4. This is what graduate student Danielle Drabeck's research is all about.

She seems to be a fine young scientist who is very involved in positive ways beyond turning out a Ph.D.

DANIELLE H. DRABECK, outreach

It's people like her on whom the future will depend. I wish her well, a less than bleak life.

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Response to NNadir (Reply #4)

Sun Aug 28, 2016, 11:16 AM

5. Just noticed your sig line.

 



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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Sun Aug 28, 2016, 03:26 PM

6. I always enjoyed the persistent honey badger in The Gods Must Be Crazy II

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Response to NNadir (Original post)

Tue Aug 30, 2016, 12:46 PM

7. I just accessed Ms. Drabeck's paper entitled "Why the honey badger don't care: Convergent...

...evolution of venom-targeted nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in mammals that survive venomous snake bites.

Here is a link to the publication if you have access: Toxicon Volume 99, 1 June 2015, Pages 68–72

It appears that the Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor (nAChR) a protein, has two polymorphisms. From the text:

Our results extend the known cases of convergent evolution at venom-targeted nAChR receptors to include the honey badger and domestic pig. The honey badger and pig lineages independently acquired replacements that are biochemically similar to those seen in the hedgehog: W187R (all three species) and F189L, (L in honey badger and pig; I in hedgehog). In mongoose, substitutions at these same sites also occur, but they eliminate α-neurotoxin binding through steric hindrance via glycosylation rather than charge interference via introduction of a positively charged amino acid. Hence, evolution of resistance in venom-targeted nAChR receptors shows that convergence in function at the same sites can be mediated through distinct biophysical mechanisms.


W187R means that that tryptophan at position 187 in the protein sequence is substituted with arginine in the honey badger and domestic pig, and that in position 189, phenylalanine is substituted with leucine in the honey badger and pig, and isoleucine in the hedgehog.

The central dogma of biology whereby the protein sequence corresponds to a genetic mutation is also discussed in the paper.

I hope the reader will find this interesting.

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