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Nat Struct Biol. 2000 Jun;7(6):505-13.

Discovery and characterization of a family of insecticidal neurotoxins with a rare vicinal disulfide bridge.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington 06032, USA.


We have isolated a family of insect-selective neurotoxins from the venom of the Australian funnel-web spider that appear to be good candidates for biopesticide engineering. These peptides, which we have named the Janus-faced atracotoxins (J-ACTXs), each contain 36 or 37 residues, with four disulfide bridges, and they show no homology to any sequences in the protein/DNA databases. The three-dimensional structure of one of these toxins reveals an extremely rare vicinal disulfide bridge that we demonstrate to be critical for insecticidal activity. We propose that J-ACTX comprises an ancestral protein fold that we refer to as the disulfide-directed beta-hairpin.

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