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Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2010 Apr;31(4):175-82. doi: 10.1016/j.tips.2009.12.007. Epub 2010 Jan 25.

Targeting voltage sensors in sodium channels with spider toxins.

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  • 1Molecular Physiology and Biophysics Section, Porter Neuroscience Research Center National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892 USA. bosmansf@ninds.nih.gov <bosmansf@ninds.nih.gov>


Voltage-activated sodium (Nav) channels are essential in generating and propagating nerve impulses, placing them amongst the most widely targeted ion channels by toxins from venomous organisms. An increasing number of spider toxins have been shown to interfere with the voltage-driven activation process of mammalian Nav channels, possibly by interacting with one or more of their voltage sensors. This review focuses on our existing knowledge of the mechanism by which spider toxins affect Nav channel gating and the possible applications of these toxins in the drug discovery process.

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