Publication Details

Xu, S., Zhang, T., Kompella, S. N., Yan, M., Lu, A., Wang, Y., Shao, X., Chi, C., Adams, D. J., Ding, J. & Wang, C. (2015). Conotoxin αd-GeXXA utilizes a novel strategy to antagonize nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Scientific Reports, 5 14261-1 - 14261-8.


Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) play essential roles in transmitting acetylcholine-mediated neural signals across synapses and neuromuscular junctions, and are also closely linked to various diseases and clinical conditions. Therefore, novel nAChR-specific compounds have great potential for both neuroscience research and clinical applications. Conotoxins, the peptide neurotoxins produced by cone snails, are a rich reservoir of novel ligands that target receptors, ion channels and transporters in the nervous system. From the venom of Conus generalis, we identified a novel dimeric nAChR-inhibiting αD-conotoxin GeXXA. By solving the crystal structure and performing structure-guided dissection of this toxin, we demonstrated that the monomeric C-terminal domain of αD-GeXXA, GeXXA-CTD, retains inhibitory activity against the α9α10 nAChR subtype. Furthermore, we identified that His7 of the rat α10 nAChR subunit determines the species preference of αD-GeXXA, and is probably part of the binding site of this toxin. These results together suggest that αD-GeXXA cooperatively binds to two inter-subunit interfaces on the top surface of nAChR, thus allosterically disturbing the opening of the receptor. The novel antagonistic mechanism of αD-GeXXA via a new binding site on nAChRs provides a valuable basis for the rational design of new nAChR-targeting compounds.



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