The renewed interest in the study of genes of immunity in Cnidaria has led to additional information to the scenario of the first stages of immunity evolution revealing the cellular processes involved in symbiosis, in the regulation of homeostasis and in the fight against infections. The recent study with new molecular and functional approach on these organisms have therefore contributed with unexpected information on the knowledge of the stages of capturing activities and defense mechanisms strongly associated with toxin production. Cnidarians are diblastic aquatic animals with radial symmetry; they represent the ancestral state of Metazoa, they are the simplest multicellular organisms that have reached the level of tissue organization.The Cnidaria phylum has evolved using biotoxins as defense or predation mechanisms for ensure survival in hostile and competitive environments such as the seas and oceans. From benthic and pelagic species a large number of toxic compounds that have been determined can have an active role in the development of various antiviral, anticancer and antibacterial functions. Although the immune defense response of these animals is scarcely known, the tissues and the mucus produced by cnidarians are involved in immune defense and contain a large variety of peptides such as sodium and potassium channel neurotoxins, cytolysins, phospholipase A2 (PLA2), acid-sensing ion channel peptide toxins (ASICs) and other toxins, classified following biochemical and pharmacological studies on the basis of functional, molecular and structural parameters. These basal metazoan in fact, are far from "simple" in the range of methods at their disposal to deal with potential prey but also invading microbes and pathogens. They could also take advantage of the multi-functionality of some of their toxins, for example, some bioactive molecules have characteristics of toxicity associated with a potential antimicrobial activity. The interest in cnidarians was not only directed to the study of toxins and venom, but also to the fact these animals have been suggested as source of new molecules potentially relevant for biotechnology and pharmaceutical applications. Here, we review the cnidarian type of toxins regarding their multifunctional role and the future possibility of drawing important applications in fields ranging from biology to pharmacology.
Keywords: Antimicrobial peptide, cnidaria, cytolysins, immune defense, neurotoxin, toxins.