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Biochemistry. 2001 Dec 4;40(48):14567-75.

A new omega-conotoxin that targets N-type voltage-sensitive calcium channels with unusual specificity.

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Institut Fédératif de Neurobiologie Alfred Fessard, Laboratoire de Neurobiologie Cellulaire et Moléculaire, UPR 9040, CNRS, 91198 Gif sur Yvette Cedex, France.


A new specific voltage-sensitive calcium channel (VSCC) blocker has been isolated from the venom of the fish-hunting cone snail Conus consors. This peptide, named omega-Ctx CNVIIA, consists of 27 amino acid residues folded by 3 disulfide bridges. Interestingly, loop 4, which is supposed to be crucial for selectivity, shows an unusual sequence (SSSKGR). The synthesis of the linear peptide was performed using the Fmoc strategy, and the correct folding was achieved in the presence of guanidinium chloride, potassium buffer, and reduced/oxidized glutathione at 4 degrees C for 3 days. Both synthetic and native toxin caused an intense shaking activity, characteristic of omega-conotoxins targeting N-type VSCC when injected intracerebroventricularly to mice. Binding studies on rat brain synaptosomes revealed that the radioiodinated omega-Ctx CNVIIA specifically and reversibly binds to high-affinity sites with a K(d) of 36.3 pM. Its binding is competitive with omega-Ctx MVIIA at low concentration (K(i) = 2 pM). Moreover, omega-Ctx CNVIIA exhibits a clear selectivity for N-type VSCCs versus P/Q-type VSCCs targeted respectively by radioiodinated omega-Ctx GVIA and omega-Ctx MVIIC. Although omega-Ctx CNVIIA clearly blocked N-type Ca(2+) current in chromaffin cells, this toxin did not inhibit acetylcholine release evoked by nerve stimuli at the frog neuromuscular junction, in marked contrast to omega-Ctx GVIA. omega-Ctx CNVIIA thus represents a new selective tool for blocking N-type VSCC that displays a unique pharmacological profile and highlights the diversity of voltage-sensitive Ca(2+) channels in the animal kingdom.

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