α-Conotoxins exhibiting analgesic activity, such as Vc1.1, have been shown to inhibit α9α10 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) and GABAB-receptor (GABABR) coupled N-type (CaV2.2) calcium channels. Here, we report two Vc1.1 variants, Vc1.1[N9R] and benzoyl-Vc1.1[N9R], that selectively inhibit CaV2.2 channels via GABABR activation but exhibit reduced inhibitory activity at α9α10 and other neuronal nAChR subtypes compared with Vc1.1. Surprisingly, the analgesic activity of Vc1.1[N9R] and benzoyl-Vc1.1[N9R] was more potent than that of Vc1.1 when tested in partial sciatic nerve ligation injury and chronic constriction injury models. Vc1.1[N9R] and benzoyl-Vc1.1[N9R] exhibited either similar or tenfold higher activity of GABABR-mediated CaV2.2 inhibition but no activity at CaV2.2 alone; however, the mechanism of increased analgesic activity is unknown. The effects on analgesic activity and α9α10 nAChR of other Vc1.1 variations at position 9 and the N-terminus were also determined. Our findings provide new insights for designing potent inhibitors for GABABR-coupled N-type (CaV2.2) calcium channels.
Available for download on Friday, October 25, 2019