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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1988 May;85(10):3329-33.

Purification, sequence, and model structure of charybdotoxin, a potent selective inhibitor of calcium-activated potassium channels.

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Department of Growth Factor Research, Merck Sharp & Dohme Research Laboratories, Rahway, NJ 07065.


Charybdotoxin (ChTX), a protein present in the venom of the scorpion Leiurus quinquestriatus var. hebraeus, has been purified to homogeneity by a combination of ion-exchange and reversed-phase chromatography. Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, amino acid analysis, and complete amino acid sequence determination of the pure protein reveal that it consists of a single polypeptide chain of 4.3 kDa. Purified ChTX is a potent and selective inhibitor of the approximately 220-pS Ca2+-activated K+ channel present in GH3 anterior pituitary cells and primary bovine aortic smooth muscle cells. The toxin reversibly blocks channel activity by interacting at the external pore of the channel protein with an apparent Kd of 2.1 nM. The primary structure of ChTX is similar to a number of neurotoxins of diverse origin, which suggests that ChTX is a member of a superfamily of proteins that modify ion-channel activities. On the basis of this similarity, the three-dimensional structure of ChTX has been modeled from the known crystal structure of alpha-bungarotoxin. These studies indicate that ChTX is useful as a probe of Ca2+-activated K+-channel function and suggest that the proposed tertiary structure of ChTX may provide insight into the mechanism of channel block.

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