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Antioxid Redox Signal. 2008 Jan;10(1):141-55.

Folding of conotoxins: formation of the native disulfide bridges during chemical synthesis and biosynthesis of Conus peptides.

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Department of Medicinal Chemistry, College of Pharmacy, Salt Lake City, Utah 84108, USA.


Conopeptides from >700 species of predatory marine Conus snails provide an impressive molecular diversity of cysteine-rich peptides. Most of the estimated 50,000-100,000 distinct conopeptides range in size from 10 to 50 amino acid residues, often with multiple posttranslational modifications. The great majority contain from two to four disulfide bridges. As the biosynthetic and chemical production of this impressive repertoire of disulfide-rich peptides has been investigated, particularly the formation of native disulfide bridges, differences between in vivo and in vitro oxidative folding have become increasingly evident. In this article, we provide an overview of the molecular diversity of conotoxins with an emphasis on the cysteine patterns and disulfide frameworks. The conotoxin folding studies reviewed include regioselective and direct oxidation strategies, recombinant expression, optimization of folding methods, mechanisms of in vitro folding, and preliminary data on the biosynthesis of conotoxins in venom ducts. Despite these studies, how the cone snails efficiently produce properly folded conotoxins remains unanswered. As chemists continue to master oxidative folding techniques, insights gleaned from how conotoxins are folded in vivo will likely lead to the development of the new folding methods, as well as shed some light on fundamental mechanisms relevant to the protein folding problem.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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