Jenny Ekberg

University of Queensland , Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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Publications (14)58.18 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Mu-conotoxins are small peptide inhibitors of muscle and neuronal tetrodotoxin (TTX)-sensitive voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSCs). Here we report the isolation of mu-conotoxins SIIIA and SIIIB by (125)I-TIIIA-guided fractionation of milked Conus striatus venom. SIIIA and SIIIB potently displaced (125)I-TIIIA from native rat brain Na(v)1.2 (IC(50) values 10 and 5 nm, respectively) and muscle Na(v)1.4 (IC(50) values 60 and 3 nm, respectively) VGSCs, and both inhibited current through Xenopus oocyte-expressed Na(v)1.2 and Na(v)1.4. An alanine scan of SIIIA-(2-20), a pyroglutamate-truncated analogue with enhanced neuronal activity, revealed residues important for affinity and selectivity. Alanine replacement of the solvent-exposed Trp-12, Arg-14, His-16, Arg-18 resulted in large reductions in SIIIA-(2-20) affinity, with His-16 replacement affecting structure. In contrast, [D15A]SIIIA-(2-20) had significantly enhanced neuronal affinity (IC(50) 0.65 nm), while the double mutant [D15A/H16R]SIIIA-(2-20) showed greatest Na(v)1.2 versus 1.4 selectivity (136-fold). (1)H NMR studies revealed that SIIIA adopted a single conformation in solution comprising a series of turns and an alpha-helical motif across residues 11-16 that is not found in larger mu-conotoxins. The structure of SIIIA provides a new structural template for the development of neuronally selective inhibitors of TTX-sensitive VGSCs based on the smaller mu-conotoxin pharmacophore.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 08/2008; 283(31):21621-8. · 4.65 Impact Factor
  • J. Ekberg, D.J. Craik, D.J. Adams
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    ABSTRACT: The rising phase of the action potential in excitable cells is mediated by voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSCs), of which there are nine mammalian subtypes with distinct tissue distribution and biophysical properties. The involvement of certain VGSC subtypes in disease states such as pain and epilepsy highlights the need for agents that modulate VGSCs in a subtype-specific manner. Conotoxins from marine snails of the Conus genus constitute a promising source of such modulators, since these peptide toxins have evolved to become selective for various membrane receptors, ion channels and transporters in excitable cells. This review covers the structure and function of three classes of conopeptides that modulate VGSCs: the pore-blocking μ-conotoxins, the δ-conotoxins which delay or inhibit VGSC inactivation, and the μO-conotoxins which inhibit VGSC Na+ conductance independent of the tetrodotoxin binding site. Some of these toxins have potential therapeutic and research applications, in particular the μO-conotoxins, which may develop into potential drug leads for the treatment of pain states.
    The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology 01/2008; · 4.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Photosensitive seizures occur most commonly in childhood and adolescence, usually as a manifestation of complex idiopathic generalized epilepsies (IGEs). Molecular mechanisms underlying this condition are yet to be determined because no susceptibility genes have been identified. The NEDD4-2 (Neuronally Expressed Developmentally Downregulated 4) gene encodes a ubiquitin protein ligase proposed to regulate cell surface levels of several ion channels, receptors and transporters involved in regulating neuronal excitability, including voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSCs), the most clinically relevant of the epilepsy genes. The regulation of NEDD4-2 in vivo involves complex interactions with accessory proteins in a cell type specific manner. We screened NEDD4-2 for mutations in a cohort of 253 families with IGEs. We identified three NEDD4-2 missense changes in highly conserved residues; S233L, E271A and H515P in families with photosensitive generalized epilepsy. The NEDD4-2 variants were as effective as wild-type NEDD4-2 in downregulating the VGSC subtype Na(v)1.2 when assessed in the Xenopus oocyte heterologous expression system showing that the direct interaction with the ion channel was not altered by these variants. These data raise the possibility that photosensitive epilepsy may arise from defective interaction of NEDD4-2 with as yet unidentified accessory or target proteins.
    Genes Brain and Behavior 12/2007; 6(8):750-5. · 3.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The muscarine-sensitive K(+) current (M-current) stabilizes the resting membrane potential in neurons, thus limiting neuronal excitability. The M-current is mediated by heteromeric channels consisting of KCNQ3 subunits in association with either KCNQ2 or KCNQ5 subunits. The role of KCNQ2/3/5 in the regulation of neuronal excitability is well established; however, little is known about the mechanisms that regulate the cell surface expression of these channels. Ubiquitination by the Nedd4/Nedd4-2 ubiquitin ligases is known to regulate a number of membrane ion channels and transporters. In this study, we investigated whether Nedd4/Nedd4-2 could regulate KCNQ2/3/5 channels. We found that the amplitude of the K(+) currents mediated by KCNQ2/3 and KCNQ3/5 were reduced by Nedd4-2 (but not Nedd4) in a Xenopus oocyte expression system. Deletion experiments showed that the C-terminal region of the KCNQ3 subunit is required for the Nedd4-2-mediated regulation of the heteromeric channels. Glutathione S-transferase fusion pulldowns and co-immunoprecipitations demonstrated a direct interaction between KCNQ2/3 and Nedd4-2. Furthermore, Nedd4-2 could ubiquitinate KCNQ2/3 in transfected cells. Taken together, these data suggest that Nedd4-2 is potentially an important regulator of M-current activity in the nervous system.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 05/2007; 282(16):12135-42. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mu-conotoxins are three-loop peptides produced by cone snails to inhibit voltage-gated sodium channels during prey capture. Using polymerase chain reaction techniques, we identified a gene sequence from the venom duct of Conus tulipa encoding a new mu-conotoxin-TIIIA (TIIIA). A 125I-TIIIA binding assay was established to isolate native TIIIA from the crude venom of Conus striatus. The isolated peptide had three post-translational modifications, including two hydroxyproline residues and C-terminal amidation, and <35% homology to other mu-conotoxins. TIIIA potently displaced [3H]saxitoxin and 125I-TIIIA from rat brain (Nav1.2) and skeletal muscle (Nav1.4) membranes. Alanine and glutamine scans of TIIIA revealed several residues, including Arg14, that were critical for high-affinity binding to tetrodotoxin (TTX)-sensitive Na+ channels. We were surprised to find that [E15A]TIIIA had a 10-fold higher affinity than TIIIA for TTX-sensitive sodium channels (IC50, 15 vs. 148 pM at rat brain membrane). TIIIA was selective for Nav1.2 and -1.4 over Nav1.3, -1.5, -1.7, and -1.8 expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes and had no effect on rat dorsal root ganglion neuron Na+ current. 1H NMR studies revealed that TIIIA adopted a single conformation in solution that was similar to the major conformation described previously for mu-conotoxin PIIIA. TIIIA and analogs provide new biochemical probes as well as insights into the structure-activity of mu-conotoxins.
    Molecular Pharmacology 03/2007; 71(3):676-85. · 4.41 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The tetrodotoxin-resistant voltage-gated sodium channel (VGSC) Na(v)1.8 is expressed predominantly by damage-sensing primary afferent nerves and is important for the development and maintenance of persistent pain states. Here we demonstrate that muO-conotoxin MrVIB from Conus marmoreus displays substantial selectivity for Na(v)1.8 and inhibits pain behavior in models of persistent pain. In rat sensory neurons, submicromolar concentrations of MrVIB blocked tetrodotoxin-resistant current characteristic of Na(v)1.8 but not Na(v)1.9 or tetrodotoxin-sensitive VGSC currents. MrVIB blocked human Na(v)1.8 expressed in Xenopus oocytes with selectivity at least 10-fold greater than other VGSCs. In neuropathic and chronic inflammatory pain models, allodynia and hyperalgesia were both reduced by intrathecal infusion of MrVIB (0.03-3 nmol), whereas motor side effects occurred only at 30-fold higher doses. In contrast, the nonselective VGSC blocker lignocaine displayed no selectivity for allodynia and hyperalgesia versus motor side effects. The actions of MrVIB reveal that VGSC antagonists displaying selectivity toward Na(v)1.8 can alleviate chronic pain behavior with a greater therapeutic index than nonselective antagonists.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2006; 103(45):17030-5. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The constitutive reuptake of albumin from the glomerular filtrate by receptor-mediated endocytosis is a key function of the renal proximal tubules. Both the Cl- channel ClC-5 and the Na+-H+ exchanger isoform 3 are critical components of the macromolecular endocytic complex that is required for albumin uptake, and therefore the cell-surface levels of these proteins may limit albumin endocytosis. This study was undertaken to investigate the potential roles of the epithelial PDZ scaffolds, Na+-H+ exchange regulatory factors, NHERF1 and NHERF2, in albumin uptake by opossum kidney (OK) cells. We found that ClC-5 co-immunoprecipitates with NHERF2 but not NHERF1 from OK cell lysate. Experiments using fusion proteins demonstrated that this was a direct interaction between an internal binding site in the C terminus of ClC-5 and the PDZ2 module of NHERF2. In OK cells, NHERF2 is restricted to the intravillar region while NHERF1 is located in the microvilli. Silencing NHERF2 reduced both cell-surface levels of ClC-5 and albumin uptake. Conversely, silencing NHERF1 increased cell-surface levels of ClC-5 and albumin uptake, presumably by increasing the mobility of NHE3 in the membrane and its availability to the albumin uptake complex. Surface biotinylation experiments revealed that both NHERF1 and NHERF2 were associated with the plasma membrane and that NHERF2 was recruited to the membrane in the presence of albumin. The importance of the interaction between NHERF2 and the cytoskeleton was demonstrated by a significant reduction in albumin uptake in cells overexpressing an ezrin binding-deficient mutant of NHERF2. Thus NHERF1 and NHERF2 differentially regulate albumin uptake by mechanisms that ultimately alter the cell-surface levels of ClC-5.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 07/2006; 281(23):16068-77. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    J Ekberg, D J Adams
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    ABSTRACT: Voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSCs) play an important role in neuronal excitability. Regulation of VGSC activity is a complex phenomenon that occurs at multiple levels in the cell, including transcriptional regulation, post-translational modification and membrane insertion and retrieval. Multiple VGSC subtypes exist that vary in their biophysical and pharmacological properties and tissue distribution. Any alteration of the VGSC subtype profile of a neuron or the mechanisms that regulate VGSC activity can cause significant changes in neuronal excitability. Inflammatory and neuropathic pain states are characterised by alterations in VGSC subtype composition and activity in sensory neurons. This review focuses on the VGSC subtypes involved in such pain states.
    The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology 02/2006; 38(12):2005-10. · 4.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: ClC-5 is a chloride (Cl(-)) channel expressed in renal tubules and is critical for normal tubular function. Loss of function nonsense or missense mutations in ClC-5 are associated with Dent's disease, a condition in which patients present with low molecular weight (LMW) proteinuria (including albuminuria), hypercalciuria and nephrolithiasis. Several key studies in ClC-5 knockout mice have shown that the proteinuria results from defective tubular reabsorption of proteins. ClC-5 is typically regarded as an intracellular Cl(-) channel and thus the defect in this receptor-mediated uptake pathway was initially attributed to the failure of the early endosomes to acidify correctly. ClC-5 was postulated to play a key role in transporting the Cl(-) ions required to compensate for the movement of H(+) during endosomal acidification. However, more recent studies suggest additional roles for ClC-5 in the endocytosis of albumin. ClC-5 is now known to be expressed at low levels at the cell surface and appears to be a key component in the assembly of the macromolecular complex involved in protein endocytosis. Furthermore, mutations in ClC-5 affect the trafficking of v-H(+)-ATPase and result in decreased expression of the albumin receptor megalin/cubulin. Thus, the expression of ClC-5 at the cell surface as well as its presence in endosomes appears to be essential for normal protein uptake by the renal proximal tubule.
    The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology 02/2006; 38(7):1036-42. · 4.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Constitutive albumin uptake by the proximal tubule is achieved by a receptor-mediated process in which the Cl(-) channel, ClC-5, plays an obligate role. Here we investigated the functional interaction between ClC-5 and ubiquitin ligases Nedd4 and Nedd4-2 and their role in albumin uptake in opossum kidney proximal tubule (OK) cells. In vivo immunoprecipitation using an anti-HECT antibody demonstrated that ClC-5 bound to ubiquitin ligases, whereas glutathione S-transferase pull-downs confirmed that the C terminus of ClC-5 bound both Nedd4 and Nedd4-2. Nedd4-2 alone was able to alter ClC-5 currents in Xenopus oocytes by decreasing cell surface expression of ClC-5. In OK cells, a physiological concentration of albumin (10 mug/ml) rapidly increased cell surface expression of ClC-5, which was also accompanied by the ubiquitination of ClC-5. Albumin uptake was reduced by inhibiting either the lysosome or proteasome. Total levels of Nedd4-2 and proteasome activity also increased rapidly in response to albumin. Overexpression of ligase defective Nedd4-2 or knockdown of endogenous Nedd4-2 with small interfering RNA resulted in significant decreases in albumin uptake. In contrast, pathophysiological concentrations of albumin (100 and 1000 mug/ml) reduced the levels of ClC-5 and Nedd4-2 and the activity of the proteasome to the levels seen in the absence of albumin. These data demonstrate that normal constitutive uptake of albumin by the proximal tubule requires Nedd4-2, which may act via ubiquitination to shunt ClC-5 into the endocytic pathway.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 01/2005; 279(53):54996-5007. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nedd4 and Nedd4-2 are ubiquitin-protein ligases known to regulate a number of membrane proteins including receptors and ion transporters. Regulation of the epithelial Na(+) channel by Nedd4 and Nedd4-2 is mediated via interactions between the PY motifs of the epithelial sodium channel subunits and the Nedd4/Nedd4-2 WW domains. This example serves as a model for the regulation of other PY motif-containing ion channels by Nedd4 and Nedd4-2. We found that the carboxyl termini of the six voltage-gated Na(+) (Na(v)) channels contain typical PY motifs (PPXY), and a further Na(v) contains a PY motif variant (LPXY). Not only did we demonstrate by Far-Western analysis that Nedd4 and Nedd4-2 interact with the PY motif-containing Na(v) channels, but we also showed that these channels have conserved WW domain binding specificity. We further showed that the carboxyl termini fusion proteins of one central nervous system and one peripheral nervous system-derived Na(+) channel (Na(v)1.2 and Na(v)1.7, respectively) are readily ubiquitinated by Nedd4-2. In Xenopus oocytes, Nedd4-2 strongly inhibited the activities of all three Na(v)s (Na(v)1.2, Na(v)1.7, and Na(v)1.8) tested. Interestingly, Nedd4 suppressed the activity of Na(v)1.2 and Na(v)1.7 but was a poor inhibitor of Na(v)1.8. Our results provide evidence that Nedd4 and Nedd4-2 are likely to be key regulators of specific neuronal Na(v) channels in vivo.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 08/2004; 279(28):28930-5. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The microO-conotoxins are an intriguing class of conotoxins targeting various voltage-dependent sodium channels and molluscan calcium channels. In the current study, we have shown MrVIA and MrVIB to be the first known peptidic inhibitors of the transient tetrodotoxin-resistant (TTX-R) Na(+) current in rat dorsal root ganglion neurons, in addition to inhibiting tetrodotoxin-sensitive Na(+) currents. Human TTX-R sodium channels are a therapeutic target for indications such as pain, highlighting the importance of the microO-conotoxins as potential leads for drug development. Furthermore, we have used NMR spectroscopy to provide the first structural information on this class of conotoxins. MrVIA and MrVIB are hydrophobic peptides that aggregate in aqueous solution but were solubilized in 50% acetonitrile/water. The three-dimensional structure of MrVIB consists of a small beta-sheet and a cystine knot arrangement of the three-disulfide bonds. It contains four backbone "loops" between successive cysteine residues that are exposed to the solvent to varying degrees. The largest of these, loop 2, is the most disordered part of the molecule, most likely due to flexibility in solution. This disorder is the most striking difference between the structures of MrVIB and the known delta- and omega-conotoxins, which along with the microO-conotoxins are members of the O superfamily. Loop 2 of omega-conotoxins has previously been shown to contain residues critical for binding to voltage-gated calcium channels, and it is interesting to speculate that the flexibility observed in MrVIB may accommodate binding to both sodium and molluscan calcium channels.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 07/2004; 279(24):25774-82. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The µO-conotoxins are an intriguing class of conotoxins targeting various voltage-dependent sodium channels and molluscan calcium channels. In the current study, we have shown MrVIA and MrVIB to be the first known peptidic inhibitors of the transient tetrodotoxinresistant (TTX-R) Na+ current in rat dorsal root ganglion neurons, in addition to inhibiting tetrodotoxinsensitive Na_ currents. Human TTX-R sodium channels are a therapeutic target for indications such as pain, highlighting the importance of the µO-conotoxins as potential leads for drug development. Furthermore, we have used NMR spectroscopy to provide the first structural information on this class of conotoxins. MrVIA and MrVIB are hydrophobic peptides that aggregate in aqueous solution but were solubilized in 50% acetonitrile/ water. The three-dimensional structure of MrVIB consists of a small β-sheet and a cystine knot arrangement of the three-disulfide bonds. It contains four backbone “loops” between successive cysteine residues that are exposed to the solvent to varying degrees. The largest of these, loop 2, is the most disordered part of the molecule, most likely due to flexibility in solution. This disorder is the most striking difference between the structures of MrVIB and the known δ- and ω-conotoxins, which along with the µO-conotoxins are members of the O superfamily. Loop 2 of ω-conotoxins has previously been shown to contain residues critical for binding to voltage-gated calcium channels, and it is interesting to speculate that the flexibility observed in MrVIB may accommodate binding to both sodium and molluscan calcium channels. Yes Yes
    01/2004;
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    ABSTRACT: μ-Conotoxins are small peptide inhibitors of muscle and neuronal tetrodotoxin (TTX)-sensitive voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSCs). Here we report the isolation of μ-conotoxins SIIIA and SIIIB by 125I-TIIIA-guided fractionation of milked Conus striatus venom. SIIIA and SIIIB potently displaced 125I-TIIIA from native rat brain Nav1.2 (IC50 values 10 and 5 nm, respectively) and muscle Nav1.4 (IC50 values 60 and 3 nm, respectively) VGSCs, and both inhibited current through Xenopus oocyte-expressed Nav1.2 and Nav1.4. An alanine scan of SIIIA-(2–20), a pyroglutamate-truncated analogue with enhanced neuronal activity, revealed residues important for affinity and selectivity. Alanine replacement of the solvent-exposed Trp-12, Arg-14, His-16, Arg-18 resulted in large reductions in SIIIA-(2–20) affinity, with His-16 replacement affecting structure. In contrast, [D15A]SIIIA-(2–20) had significantly enhanced neuronal affinity (IC50 0.65 nm), while the double mutant [D15A/H16R]SIIIA-(2–20) showed greatest Nav1.2 versus 1.4 selectivity (136-fold). 1H NMR studies revealed that SIIIA adopted a single conformation in solution comprising a series of turns and anα-helical motif across residues 11–16 that is not found in larger μ-conotoxins. The structure of SIIIA provides a new structural template for the development of neuronally selective inhibitors of TTX-sensitive VGSCs based on the smaller μ-conotoxin pharmacophore. Yes Yes