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J Biol Chem. 1990 Sep 15;265(26):15564-71.

Characterization of high affinity binding sites for charybdotoxin in synaptic plasma membranes from rat brain. Evidence for a direct association with an inactivating, voltage-dependent, potassium channel.

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  • 1Department of Membrane Biochemistry and Biophysics, Merck Institute for Therapeutic Research, Rahway, New Jersey 07065.


Charybdotoxin (ChTX), a potent peptidyl inhibitor of several types of K+ channels, binds to sites in vascular smooth muscle sarcolemma (Vázquez, J., Feigenbaum, P., Katz, G. M., King, V. F., Reuben, J. P., Roy-Contancin, L., Slaughter, R. S., Kaczorowski, G. J., and Garcia, M. L. (1989) J. Biol. Chem. 265, 20902-20909) which are functionally associated with a high conductance Ca2(+)-activated K+ channel (PK,Ca). 125I-ChTX also binds specifically and reversibly to a single class of sites in plasma membranes prepared from rat brain synaptosomes. These sites exhibit a Kd of 25-30 pM, as measured by either equilibrium or kinetic binding protocols and display a maximum density of about 0.3-0.5 pmol/mg of protein. Competition studies with native ChTX yield a Ki of 8 pM for the noniodinated toxin. The highest density of ChTX sites exists in vesicle fractions of plasma membrane origin. Binding of 125I-ChTX is modulated by metal ions that interact with K+ channels: Ba2+, Ca2+, and Cs+ cause inhibition of ChTX binding; Na+ and K+ stimulate binding at low concentration before producing complete inhibition as their concentration is increased. Stimulation of binding is due to an allosteric interaction that decreases Kd whereas inhibition results from an ionic strength effect. Tetraethylammonium ion has no effect on binding, but tetrabutylammonium ion blocks binding with a Ki of 2.5 mM. Different toxins (i.e. alpha-dendrotoxin, noxiustoxin) that inhibit an inactivating, voltage-dependent K+ channel (PK,V) block 125I-ChTX binding in brain. In marked contrast, iberiotoxin, a selective inhibitor of PK,Ca, has no effect on ChTX binding in this preparation. Inhibition of ChTX binding by alpha-dendrotoxin and noxiustoxin results from an allosteric interaction between separate binding sites for these agents and the ChTX receptor. Taken together, these results suggest that the ChTX sites present in brain are associated with PK,V rather than with PK,Ca. Therefore, 125I-ChTX is a useful probe for elucidating the biochemical properties of a number of different types of K+ channels.

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