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Biochemistry. 2006 Jul 25;45(29):8864-73.

Expression and mutagenesis of the sea anemone toxin Av2 reveals key amino acid residues important for activity on voltage-gated sodium channels.

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Department of Plant Sciences, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel-Aviv University, Ramat-Aviv 69978, Tel-Aviv, Israel.


Type I sea anemone toxins are highly potent modulators of voltage-gated Na-channels (Na(v)s) and compete with the structurally dissimilar scorpion alpha-toxins on binding to receptor site-3. Although these features provide two structurally different probes for studying receptor site-3 and channel fast inactivation, the bioactive surface of sea anemone toxins has not been fully resolved. We established an efficient expression system for Av2 (known as ATX II), a highly insecticidal sea anemone toxin from Anemonia viridis (previously named A. sulcata), and mutagenized it throughout. Each toxin mutant was analyzed in toxicity and binding assays as well as by circular dichroism spectroscopy to discern the effects derived from structural perturbation from those related to bioactivity. Six residues were found to constitute the anti-insect bioactive surface of Av2 (Val-2, Leu-5, Asn-16, Leu-18, and Ile-41). Further analysis of nine Av2 mutants on the human heart channel Na(v)1.5 expressed in Xenopus oocytes indicated that the bioactive surfaces toward insects and mammals practically coincide but differ from the bioactive surface of a structurally similar sea anemone toxin, Anthopleurin B, from Anthopleura xanthogrammica. Hence, our results not only demonstrate clear differences in the bioactive surfaces of Av2 and scorpion alpha-toxins but also indicate that despite the general conservation in structure and importance of the Arg-14 loop and its flanking residues Gly-10 and Gly-20 for function, the surface of interaction between different sea anemone toxins and Na(v)s varies.

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