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Hardcore Mice use Scorpion Venom as a Painkiller


[ INTRO ] The deserts of the southwestern U.S. are home
an ordinary-looking mouse with a superpower: it’s immune to scorpion venom. In fact, grasshopper mice aren’t just immune
to the nasty stings of the bark scorpions they eat. The rodents have turned the scorpion’s best
weapon into a potent drug that temporarily dulls their pain, allowing them to eat the toxic critters with
impunity. Bark scorpions are a group of big, dangerous
arachnids. Some species are even toxic enough that they
occasionally kill people. But when they sting mammals like us, it’s
usually in defense. So they’ve evolved a venom that’s notoriously
agonizing— a feat accomplished by hijacking nerves. It contains toxins that mess with a protein
called Nav1.7. That’s a sodium ion channel—a tunnel through
the membrane which allows sodium molecules to move across which is used by our pain-sensing nerve cells. It has a gate of sorts which, when open, lets
a flood of sodium ions through to generate an electrical pulse. And that pulse is essentially the start of
the “ouch” signal that’s sent to our brains. Normally, Nav1.7 senses small changes in ion
concentrations that happen in response to injury, but bark scorpion venom has components which
force its gate open in the absence of these, triggering pain, really, really bad pain. Most mammals also have Nav1.7 channels in
their pain-sensing neurons, so scorpion venom hurts like heck in humans, most rodents, and lots of other furry critters—a
pretty effective way to say “back off”. But grasshopper mice, which eat these toxic
scorpions, have found a unique way to get around this. You might think they’ve changed their Nav1.7
proteins to be resistant to the venom, like scorpion-eating bats have. But, nope. Instead, they have an altered version of a
different sodium channel protein, Nav1.8. It’s found in the same nerves as Nav1.7,
and one of it’s jobs is to help transmit pain signals to the brain. Basically, it’s one of the runners in a
neuronal relay, and can take the baton from Nav1.7. In other mammals, Nav1.8 doesn’t react to
scorpion venom. But in these mice, it does—the venom toxins
bind to it and shut it down, dulling the mice’s pain. So the venom still turns on the pain pathway
by opening Nav1.7 that signal is just immediately stopped from
going anywhere. If that sounds incredible, well, the researchers
that discovered it were pretty surprised too, but they confirmed the pain-killing effects
in the lab. Injecting the mice with scorpion venom allowed
them to shrug off injections of pain-causing substances like formaldehyde, which otherwise make the
mice quite unhappy. And when they looked at these mice’s genes,
they found the difference comes from switching just two amino acids out of the hundreds that
make up the Nav1.8 protein. That’s all it took to transform the scorpions’
agony-inducing venom into a painkiller instead. So don’t let mice’s meek reputation fool
you — turns out some of them are way more hardcore than you might think! [ OUTRO ]

100 thoughts on “Hardcore Mice use Scorpion Venom as a Painkiller

  1. I was stung twice by a Bark Scorpion and it was the worst pain in my life. I seriously questioned if I was going to die from it.

  2. Can somebody just buy this lady some nice outfits and some different glasses frames? Maybe some contacts? I feel like she's earned it. She's got serious courage going online looking like that. Give that woman a medal, and a bunch of different outfits that make sense on her body! Please people. Let's start a Kickstarter campaign. No joke, I will pledge 10 dollars. Then we'll have to deal with the up-talking and fry sound.

  3. Please look up what a molecule is. Sodium is not a molecule, it's an atom. Molecules are groups of atoms built together into a structure. Sodium ions are not molecules.

    Edit:. Still, very interesting video, thank you 🙂

  4. When I went to bed that evening, as I was trying to get to get to sleep, my brain kept doing strange things; I kept feeling as though I was still being flung left, right, up, down and all over the place – almost like I was still on the rides. I didn't think too much of it until a couple of my colleagues said they experienced the same thing. So, is this after effect common? If so, does it have a name? What triggers it and why?

  5. grasshopper mice are the world's most metal rodent. not only do they eat scorpions and use their venom as a pain killer, they also howl. wtf.

  6. Once had this topic in a biology test! Interestingly, some of my fellow students apparently thought it was about *grasshoppers*.

  7. They are basicly hardcore Slipknot fan mice, they inflict selfpain to not feel the pain that is painful to feel, cause the scorpions cant destroy what they did not create. Think about it

  8. What is that thing in the nose? The mice have some chemical thing in their bodies to deal with this, Yes? Rodents are vermin and they do sometimes eat a bullet…

  9. Some species of scorpion have venom that is a very effective painkiller. There's a Cuban species that's kept as a walking NSAID.

  10. Calling these mice badasses would still be an understatement, if they can not just take scorpion stings, and literally not even feel pain from the vemom

  11. "EWWW that mouse is eating a scorpion alive while getting repeatedly stung by it"

    "Fascinating. Let's study this"

    Scientists

  12. So, how do we find the parallel gene in humans, change it with gene-therapy, and stick the gene-altering viruses into my head so I don't have migraines any more? Get to work on that, people! (PS: Poor mousies; formaldehyde sucks. But maybe their participation will eventually solve the opioid crisis? <3)

  13. I honestly wish science communicators would stop using language like this. "The rodents USE…" No, the rodents don't this. Their body does due to how it evolved. That's a huge difference. I get they this is done as a shortcut, but it also acts as an obstacle for people that don't understand evolution, which in the U.S. is a depressingly high number of people.

  14. Reminder that the neurotoxin in scorpion venom is chemically extremely similar to heroin and other opiate extracts.

  15. Q: Would this be categorized as phantom pain since there is no actual damage to the area (like a break or cut …) that the nerves are reacting to??
    Like the way taste buds react with peppers, perceived as heat but not actually hot.

  16. Wtf??? This was nowhere NEAR as erotic as I thought it would be. Get it together scishow. (reported twice)

  17. First we have rats on cocaine, and now mice that abuse scorpion venom? Rodents are all damn junkies !

  18. ugh. this channel has great content and annoying presenters. the only one i like is sexy glasses guy

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