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Structural and Functional Diversities among μ-Conotoxins Targeting TTX-resistant Sodium Channels

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posted on 21.03.2006, 00:00 by Min-Min Zhang, Brian Fiedler, Brad R. Green, Phillip Catlin, Maren Watkins, James E. Garrett, Brian J. Smith, Doju Yoshikami, Baldomero M. Olivera, Grzegorz Bulaj
μ-Conotoxins are peptides that block sodium channels. Molecular cloning was used to identify four novel μ-conotoxins:  CnIIIA, CnIIIB, CIIIA, and MIIIA from Conus consors, C. catus and C. magus. A comparison of their sequences with those of previously characterized μ-conotoxins suggested that the new μ-conotoxins were likely to target tetrodotoxin-resistant (TTX-r) sodium channels. The four peptides were chemically synthesized, and their biological activities were characterized. The new conotoxins all blocked, albeit with varying potencies, TTX-r sodium currents in frog dorsal-root-ganglion (DRG) neurons. The more potent of the four new μ-conotoxins, CnIIIA and CIIIA, exhibited a strikingly different selectivity profile in blocking TTX-r versus TTX-sensitive channels, as determined by their ability to block extracellularly recorded action potentials in three preparations from frog:  skeletal muscle, cardiac muscle and TTX-treated C-fibers. CnIIIA was highly specific for TTX-r sodium channels, whereas CIIIA was nonselective. Both peptides appeared significantly less potent in blocking TTX-r sodium currents in rat and mouse DRG neurons. When CnIIIA and CIIIA were injected intracranially into mice, both induced seizures, but only CIIIA caused paralysis. This is the most comprehensive characterization to date of the structural and functional diversities of an emerging group of μ-conotoxins targeting TTX-r sodium channels.

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