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Mol Pharmacol. 2000 Sep;58(3):614-23.

Conantokin G is an NR2B-selective competitive antagonist of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors.

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Department of Neurology, University of Utah, USA.


Conantokin G (Con G) is a 17-amino-acid peptide antagonist of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors isolated from the venom of the marine cone snail, Conus geographus. The mechanism of action of Con G has not been well defined; both competitive and noncompetitive interactions with the NMDA-binding site have been proposed. In this study the mechanism of action and subunit selectivity of Con G was examined in whole-cell voltage-clamp recordings from cultured neurons and in two electrode voltage-clamp recordings from Xenopus oocytes expressing recombinant NMDA receptors. Con G was a potent and selective antagonist of NMDA-evoked currents in murine cortical neurons (IC(50) = 480 nM). The slow onset of Con G block could be prevented by coapplication with high concentrations of NMDA or of the competitive antagonist (RS)-3-(2-carboxypiperazine-4-yl)-propyl-1-phosphonic acid. Furthermore, in oocytes expressing NR1a/NR2B receptors, Con G produced a rightward shift in the concentration-response curve for NMDA, providing support for a competitive interaction with the NMDA-binding site. Con G produced an apparent noncompetitive shift in the concentration-response curve for spermine potentiation of NMDA responses, but this was due to spermine-induced enhancement of Con G block. Spermine produced a similar enhancement of DL-2-amino-S-phosphopentanoic acid block. Finally, Con G selectively blocked NMDA receptors containing the NR2B subunit. These results demonstrate that Con G is a subunit-specific competitive antagonist of NMDA receptors. The unique subunit selectivity profile of Con G may explain its favorable in vivo profile compared with nonselective NMDA antagonists.

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