Are α9α10 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors a pain target for α-conotoxins?
The synthetic α-conotoxin Vc1.1 is a small disulfide bonded peptide currently in development as a treatment for neuropathic pain. Unlike Vc1.1, the native post-translationally modified peptide vc1a does not act as an analgesic in vivo in rat models of neuropathic pain. It has recently been proposed that the primary target of Vc1.1 is the α9α10 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR). We show that Vc1.1 and its post-translationally modified analogs vc1a, [P6O]Vc1.1, and [E14γ]Vc1.1 are equally potent at inhibiting ACh-evoked currents mediated by α9α10 nAChRs. This suggests that α9α10 nAChRs are unlikely to be the molecular mechanism or therapeutic target of Vc1.1 for the treatment of neuropathic pain.