Molecular requirements for recognition of brain voltage-gated sodium channels by scorpion alpha-toxins.
The scorpion alpha-toxin Lqh2 (from Leiurus quinquestriatus hebraeus) is active at various mammalian voltage-gated sodium channels (Na(v)s) and is inactive at insect Na(v)s. To resolve the molecular basis of this preference we used the following strategy: 1) Lqh2 was expressed in recombinant form and key residues important for activity at the rat brain channel rNa(v)1.2a were identified by mutagenesis. These residues form a bipartite functional surface made of a conserved "core domain" (residues of the loops connecting the secondary structure elements of the molecule core), and a variable "NC domain" (five-residue turn and the C-tail) as was reported for other scorpion alpha-toxins. 2) The functional role of the two domains was validated by their stepwise construction on the similar scaffold of the anti-insect toxin LqhalphaIT. Analysis of the activity of the intermediate constructs highlighted the critical role of Phe(15) of the core domain in toxin potency at rNa(v)1.2a, and has suggested that the shape of the NC-domain is important for toxin efficacy. 3) Based on these findings and by comparison with other scorpion alpha-toxins we were able to eliminate the activity of Lqh2 at rNa(v)1.4 (skeletal muscle), hNa(v)1.5 (cardiac), and rNa(v)1.6 channels, with no hindrance of its activity at Na(v)1.1-1.3. These results suggest that by employing a similar approach the design of further target-selective sodium channel modifiers is imminent.
PubMed ID: 19509294
PMC ID: PMC2742833
Article link: J Biol Chem.
Grant support: 1 U01 NS058039-01 NINDS NIH HHS