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Dr. Frank Mari
PhD: University of Massachusetts at Amherst
BS: Universidad Simon Bolivar, Caracas, Venezuela

Contact information
Office: S&E 134
Phone: (561) 297-3315
Fax:      (561) 297-2759
Email:   mari@fau.edu

  • Isolation and Characterization of Peptides and Proteins of Marine Origin
  • Structure and dynamics of peptides and proteins of marine origin using NMR methods
  • Computational methods for the analysis of structure-activity relationships of biomolecules

The current focus of our research program is to study the venom of cone snail species from the Atlantic ocean and the Eastern Pacific region. Cone snails are venomous predatory marine gastropods that use an elaborate biochemical strategy to compete for survival in the marine environment.

The venom of cone snails is a complex mixture of neuroactive peptides (Conopeptides) that elicit a wide range of neurophysiological responses. Several conopeptides show promising properties as neuropharmacological agents for the treatment of a wide array of conditions ranging from chronic pain to the treatment of epilepsy.

The venom of cone snails is species specific. There are more than 750 cone snail species. Therefore, more than a million biological active conopeptides may exist. Less than 200 conopeptides have fully characterized to date. Our lab is dedicated to collect Atlantic and Panamic cone snails species, separated and isolate the conopeptide components of their venom and to the molecular characterization of these conopeptides.

Selected Publications

Safavi-Hemami H, Moller C, Mari F, Purcell AW. High molecular weight components of the injected venom of fish-hunting cone snails target the vascular system. Journal of Proteomics. 2013;91c:97-105. Epub 2013/07/23. PubMed PMID: 23872086.

Peigneur S, Van Der Haegen A, Moller C, Waelkens E, Diego-Garcia E, Mari F, Naude R, Tytgat J. Unraveling the peptidome of the South African cone snails Conus pictus and Conus natalis. Peptides. 2013;41:8-16. Epub 2012/07/11. PubMed PMID: 22776330.

Mourao CB, Heghinian MD, Barbosa EA, Mari F, Bloch C, Jr., Restano-Cassulini R, Possani LD, Schwartz EF. Characterization of a novel peptide toxin from Acanthoscurria paulensis spider venom: a distinct cysteine assignment to the HWTX-II family. Biochemistry. 2013;52(14):2440-52. Epub 2013/03/19. PubMed PMID: 23496776.

Moller C, Vanderweit N, Bubis J, Mari F. Comparative analysis of proteases in the injected and dissected venom of cone snail species. Toxicon. 2013;65:59-67. Epub 2013/01/24. PubMed PMID: 23339854; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc3619401.

Mejia M, Heghinian MD, Mari F, Godenschwege TA. New tools for targeted disruption of cholinergic synaptic transmission in Drosophila melanogaster. PloS one. 2013;8(5):e64685. Epub 2013/06/06. PubMed PMID: 23737994; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc3667824.

Van Der Haegen A, Peigneur S, Dyubankova N, Moller C, Mari F, Diego-Garcia E, Naude R, Lescrinier E, Herdewijn P, Tytgat J. Pc16a, the first characterized peptide from Conus pictus venom, shows a novel disulfide connectivity. Peptides. 2012;34(1):106-13. Epub 2011/11/15. PubMed PMID: 22079220.

Peigneur S, Beress L, Moller C, Mari F, Forssmann WG, Tytgat J. A natural point mutation changes both target selectivity and mechanism of action of sea anemone toxins. FASEB Journal. 2012;26(12):5141-51. Epub 2012/09/14. PubMed PMID: 22972919.

Franco A, Kompella SN, Akondi KB, Melaun C, Daly NL, Luetje CW, Alewood PF, Craik DJ, Adams DJ, Mari F. RegIIA: an a4/7-conotoxin from the venom of Conus regius that potently blocks a3b4 nAChRs. Biochemical Pharmacology. 2012;83(3):419-26. Epub 2011/11/24. PubMed PMID: 22108175.

Rivera-Ortiz JA, Cano H, Mari F. Intraspecies variability and conopeptide profiling of the injected venom of Conus ermineus. Peptides. 2011;32(2):306-16. Epub 2010/12/04. PubMed PMID: 21126547; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc3619394.

Moller C, Mari F. 9.3 KDa components of the injected venom of Conus purpurascens define a new five-disulfide conotoxin framework. Biopolymers. 2011;96(2):158-65. Epub 2010/06/22. PubMed PMID: 20564010; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc3619398.

Moller C, Melaun C, Castillo C, Diaz ME, Renzelman CM, Estrada O, Kuch U, Lokey S, Mari F. Functional hypervariability and gene diversity of cardioactive neuropeptides. The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2010;285(52):40673-80. Epub 2010/10/07. PubMed PMID: 20923766; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc3003366.

Mejia M, Heghinian MD, Busch A, Armishaw CJ, Mari F, Godenschwege TA. A novel approach for in vivo screening of toxins using the Drosophila Giant Fiber circuit. Toxicon. 2010;56(8):1398-407. Epub 2010/08/21. PubMed PMID: 20723555; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc2967628.

Moller C, Mari F. A vasopressin/oxytocin-related conopeptide with g-carboxyglutamate at position 8. The Biochemical Journal. 2007;404(3):413-9. Epub 2007/03/03. PubMed PMID: 17331075; PubMed Central PMCID: PMCPmc1896288.

Pisarewicz K, Mora D, Pflueger FC, Fields GB, Mari F. Polypeptide chains containing D-g-hydroxyvaline. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 2005;127(17):6207-15. Epub 2005/04/28. PubMed PMID: 15853325.

Moller C, Rahmankhah S, Lauer-Fields J, Bubis J, Fields GB, Mari F. A novel conotoxin framework with a helix-loop-helix (Cs a/a) fold. Biochemistry. 2005;44(49):15986-96. Epub 2005/12/08. PubMed PMID: 16331958.



Frank Mari, Xiaojun Xie, Jeffrey H. Simpson and Donald J. Nelson*. "Multidimensional NMR Investigation of the Neurotoxic Peptide Mastoparan in the Absence and Presence of Calmodulin", in "Biological NMR Spectroscopy" Chapter 13, pp: 169-182, John L. Markley and Stanley J. Opella (Eds.), Oxford University Press, 1997.

David Mora, Fred C. Pflueger, Katarzyna Pisarewicz, Gregg B. Fields, and Frank Mari. “A Novel Post-Translational Modification: A Conopeptide from Conus gladiator Provides the First Example of g -Hydroxyvaline (Hyv) within a Polypeptide Chain” in Peptide Revolution: Genomics, Proteomics & Therapeutics, pp. 95-97, M. Chorev and T. K. Sawyer (Eds.), American Peptide Society, San Diego, CA (2004).

Elena Matei, Fred Pflueger, Aldo Franco, Herminsul Cano, David Mora, and Frank Mari. “Structural analysis of nanomolar quantities of marine neuropeptides using 2D-NMR methods”, in Peptide Revolution: Genomics, Proteomics & Therapeutics, pp. 418-419, M. Chorev and T. K. Sawyer (Eds.), American Peptide Society, San Diego, CA (2004).

Aldo Franco, Carolina Moller, Katarzyna Pisarewicz,David Mora, Gregg B. Fields, and Frank Mari. “Hyperhydroxylation: A New Strategy for Neuronal Targeting by Venomous Marine Molluscs” in Progress in Molecular and Subcellular Biology. Subseries Marine Molecular Biotechnology: Molluscs” Chapter 4, pp: 83-103, G. Cimino and M. Gavagnin (Eds.), Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelbeerg, Germany (2006).

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