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Toxicon. 2010 Sep 15;56(4):624-36. doi: 10.1016/j.toxicon.2010.06.009. Epub 2010 Jun 23.

Inhibition of the activation pathway of the T-type calcium channel Ca(V)3.1 by ProTxII.

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Committee on Neurobiology, University of Chicago, 5841 S. Maryland Avenue, MC6094, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Toxins have been used extensively to probe the gating mechanisms of voltage-gated ion channels. Relatively few such tools are available to study the low-voltage activated T-type Ca channels, which underlie thalamic neuron firing and affect sleep, resistance to seizures, and weight gain. Here we show that ProTxII, a peptide toxin recently isolated from the venom of the tarantula spider Thrixopelma pruriens, dose-dependently inhibited Ca(V)3.1 causing a decrease in current (81.6% +/- 3.1% at -30 mV in 5 microM toxin) and a positive shift in the voltage range of activation (+34.5 mV +/- 4.4 mV). Toxin-modified currents were slower to activate and faster to deactivate and they displayed a longer lag in the onset of current, i.e. the Cole-Moore shift, consistent with the inhibition of gating transitions along the activation pathway, particularly the final opening transition. Single-channel current amplitude and total gating charge were unaffected by toxin, ruling out a change in ion flux or channel dropout as mechanisms for the decrease in macroscopic conductance. A positive shift in the voltage range of gating charge movement (+30.6 mV +/- 2.6 mV shift in the voltage of half maximal charge movement in the presence of 5 microM toxin) confirmed that ProTxII-induced gating perturbations in this channel occur at the level of the voltage sensors, and kinetic modeling based on these findings suggested that reductions in current magnitude could be largely accounted for by kinetic perturbations of activation.

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