Conantokin-Br from Conus brettinghami and selectivity determinants for the NR2D subunit of the NMDA receptor.
ABSTRACT Conantokins are venom peptides from marine cone snails that are NMDA receptor antagonists. Here, we report the characterization of a 24 AA conantokin from Conus brettinghami Coomans , H. E. , Moolenbeek , R. G. and Wils , E. ( 1982 ) Basteria 46 ( 1/4 ), 3 - 67 , conantokin-Br (con-Br), the first conantokin that does not have the conserved glutamate residue at position 2. Molecular modeling studies suggest that con-Br has a helical structure between residues 2-13. In contrast to other characterized conantokins, con-Br has a high potency for NMDA receptors with NR2D subunits. To identify determinants for NR2D potency, we synthesized chimeras of con-Br and conantokin-R (con-R); the latter has a approximately 30-fold lower potency for the NR2D subtype. The characterization of two reciprocal chimeras (con-Br/R and con-R/Br), comprising the first 9-10 N-terminal AAs of each conantokin followed by the corresponding C-terminal AAs of the other conantokin demonstrates that determinants for NR2D selectivity are at the N-terminal region. Additional analogues comprising 1-3 amino acid substitutions from each peptide into the homologous region of the other led to the identification of a key determinant; a Tyr residue in position 5 increases potency for NR2D, while Val at this locus causes a decrease. The systematic definition of key determinants in the conantokin peptides for NMDA receptor subtype selectivity is an essential component in the development of conantokin peptides that are highly selective for each specific NMDA receptor subtype.
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ABSTRACT: Advances in NMR and mass spectrometry as well as in peptide biochemistry coupled to modern methods in electrophysiology have permitted the isolation and identification of numerous products from spider venoms, previously explored due to technical limitations. The chemical composition of spider venoms is diverse, ranging from low molecular weight organic compounds such as acylpolyamines to complex peptides. First, acylpolyamines (< 1000 Da) have an aromatic moiety linked to a hydrophilic lateral chain. They were characterized for the first time in spider venoms and are ligand-gated ion channel antagonists, which block mainly postsynaptic glutamate receptors in invertebrate and vertebrate nervous systems. Acylpolyamines represent the vast majority of organic components from the spider venom. Acylpolyamine analogues have proven to suppress hippocampal epileptic discharges. Moreover, acylpolyamines could suppress excitatory postsynaptic currents inducing Ca+ accumulation in neurons leading to protection against a brain ischemic insult. Second, short spider peptides (< 6000 Da) modulate ionic currents in Ca2+, Na+, or K+ voltage-gated ion channels. Such peptides may contain from three to four disulfide bridges. Some spider peptides act specifically to discriminate among Ca2+, Na+, or K+ ion channel subtypes. Their selective affinities for ion channel subfamilies are functional for mapping excitable cells. Furthermore, several of these peptides have proven to hyperpolarize peripheral neurons, which are associated with supplying sensation to the skin and skeletal muscles. Some spider N-type calcium ion channel blockers may be important for the treatment of chronic pain. A special group of spider peptides are the amphipathic and positively charged peptides. Their secondary structure is alpha-helical and they insert into the lipid cell membrane of eukaryotic or prokaryotic cells leading to the formation of pores and subsequently depolarizing the cell membrane. Acylpolyamines and peptides from spider venoms represent an interesting source of molecules for the design of novel pharmaceutical drugs.Natural Product Reports 02/2007; 24(1):145-61. · 10.18 Impact Factor