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Biochimie. 2004 Feb;86(2):137-49.

Snake postsynaptic neurotoxins: gene structure, phylogeny and applications in research and therapy.

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Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, National University of Singapore, 8 Medical Drive, Singapore 117597, Singapore.


Snake venoms are complex mixtures of biologically active polypeptides that target a variety of vital physiological functions in mammals. alpha-Neurotoxins, toxins that cause paralysis by binding to the nicotinic receptors at the postsynaptic region of the neuromuscular junction have been widely studied in terms of their structure-function relationships as well as gene structure, organization and expression. In this review, we describe the structure of alpha-neurotoxin genes and discuss their evolutionary relationships. Almost all members of neurotoxins have been found to exhibit a common evolutionary origin. The importance of alpha-neurotoxins in therapy and research has also been discussed to highlight their potential applications especially in the area of drug discovery.

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