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Biopolymers. 2000 Jul;54(1):44-57.

Structural basis for the biological activity of dendrotoxin-I, a potent potassium channel blocker.

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Structural Biology Unit, National Institute of Agrobiological Resources, 2-1-2 Kannondai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8602, Japan.


A topochemical model to explain the biological activity of dendrotoxin-I (DTX-I), a potent blocker for potassium channels, was developed by searching common spatial arrangements of functionally important residues between DTX-I, alpha-dendrotoxin, dendrotoxin-K, BgK, ShK, and charybdotoxin. The first three are structurally and functionally related to one another, and specifically target to Kv1 type potassium channels. The last three are structurally unrelated to the first three but have the ability to displace (125)I-labeled dendrotoxins on the same types of potassium channels. In order to obtain the correct electronic surface potential, thought to be crucial for the DTX-I function, we determined the three-dimensional solution structure of DTX-I by nmr spectroscopy using its correct amino acid sequence recently determined by our group. The most interesting characteristic of our model is that DTX-I has two binding sites to potassium channels: one is the cationic domain made up of Lys residues at positions 5 in the 3(10)-helix, 28 and 29 in the beta-turn, and the other is the Lys19/Tyr17/Trp37 triad located in the antiprotease domain. The cationic domain and the triad are located at the opposite sides of the molecular structure and are separated by about 25 A between Lys29 Calpha and Tyr17 Calpha. The functional triad is characterized by three distances, d(1) approximately 7.5 A (Lys19 Calpha-the center of the Tyr17 aromatic ring), d(2) approximately 8.1 A (Lys19 Calpha-the center of the 6-membered ring of the Trp37 indole group), and d(3) approximately 7. 3 A (the center of the Tyr17 aromatic ring-the center of the 6-membered ring of the Trp37 indole group). This model should aid in the pharmaceutical design of peptide and nonpeptide drugs with potassium channel blocking potencies, as well as in understanding of the physiology, pharmacology, biochemistry, and structure-function analysis of potassium channels.

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