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J Pept Res. 1997 Jun;49(6):545-55.

Characterization of a new family of toxin-like peptides from the venom of the scorpion Leiurus quinquestriatus hebraeus. 1H-NMR structure of leiuropeptide II.

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  • 1Faculté de Pharmacie, Lille, France.


To extend our knowledge about the structural features of short scorpion toxins, the ion-exchange fractions obtained from Leiurus quinquestriatus hebraeus venom were investigated by plasma desorption mass spectrometry in order to select low molecular mass polypeptides. Three toxin-like peptides with molecular mass close to 3 kDa, named leiuropeptides I, II and III, were purified and found devoid of any significant toxicity against mammals and insects. Their amino acid sequences revealed a cysteine pattern analogous to that of short-chain scorpion toxins. The solution structure of leiuropeptide II was determined by 2D 1H-NMR spectroscopy and indicated the presence of a helix accommodating a proline, connected to a two-standard beta-sheet by three disulfide bonds. The overall fold of leiuropeptide II is found to be similar to that of leiurotoxin I, a 31-residue toxin present in the same scorpion venom which acts on K+ channels. In order to rationalize the absence of toxicity, the electrostatic potential of leiuropeptide II was compared to that of leiurotoxin I. The peptide is characterized by a large negative zone around Glu4, Asp5 and Asp8 residues, beginning in the neighbourhood of the beta-turn and extending along the helix. In the same area, leiurotoxin I exhibits a positive surface, around Arg6 and Arg13 basic residues, which are essential for its receptor affinity.

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