ABSTRACT: The major venom component of Micrurus mipartitus, a coral snake distributed from Nicaragua to northern South America, was characterized biochemically and functionally. This protein, named mipartoxin-I, is a novel member of the three-finger toxin superfamily, presenting the characteristic cysteine signature and amino acid sequence length of the short-chain, type-I, α-neurotoxins. Nevertheless, it varies considerably from related toxins, with a sequence identity not higher than 70% in a multiple alignment of 67 proteins within this family. Its observed molecular mass (7030.0) matches the value predicted by its amino acid sequence, indicating lack of post-translational modifications. Mipartoxin-I showed a potent lethal effect in mice (intraperitoneal median lethal dose: 0.06 μg/g body weight), and caused a clear neuromuscular blockade on both avian and mouse nerve-muscle preparations, presenting a post-synaptic action through the cholinergic nicotinic receptor. Since mipartoxin-I is the most abundant (28%) protein in M. mipartitus venom, it should play a major role in its toxicity, and therefore represents an important target for developing a therapeutic antivenom, which is very scarce or even unavailable in the regions where this snake inhabits. The structural information here provided might help in the preparation of a synthetic or recombinant immunogen to overcome the limited venom availability.
Toxicon 06/2012; 60(5):851-63. · 2.51 Impact Factor