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Toxicon. 2009 Sep 1;54(3):295-301. doi: 10.1016/j.toxicon.2009.04.016. Epub 2009 Apr 23.

New conopeptides of the D-superfamily selectively inhibiting neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.

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Zentrum der Rechtsmedizin, University of Frankfurt, Kennedyallee 104, D-60596 Frankfurt, Germany.


The venom of cone snails (Conus spp.) is a rich source of peptides exhibiting a wide variety of biological activities. Several of these conopeptides are neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) antagonists and belong to the A-, M-, S-, C and the recently described D-superfamily (alphaD-conopeptides). Here we describe the discovery and characterization of two alphaD-conopeptides isolated from the venom of Conus mustelinus and Conus capitaneus. Their primary structure was determined by Edman degradation, MS/MS analysis and by a PCR based approach. These peptides show close structural homology to the alphaD-VxXIIA, -B and -C conopeptides from the venom of Conus vexillum and are dimers (about 11kDa) of similar or identical peptides with 49 amino acid residues and a characteristic arrangement of ten conserved cysteine residues. These novel types of conopeptides specifically block neuronal nAChRs of the alpha7, alpha3beta2 and alpha4beta2 subtypes in nanomolar concentrations. Due to their high affinity, these new ligands may provide a tool to decipher the localisation and function of the various neuronal nAChRs.

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