2022 - Identification of a sensory neuron Cav2.3 inhibitor within a new superfamily of macro-conotoxins
Patchliner Pre-Print Publication in bioRxiv (2022)
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bioRxiv (2022) doi:10.1101/2022.07.04.498665
Animal venom peptides represent valuable compounds for biomedical exploration. The venoms of marine cone snails constitute a particularly rich source of peptide toxins, known as conotoxins. Here, we identify the sequence of an unusually large conotoxin, Mu8.1, that defines a new gene superfamily. The crystal structure of recombinant Mu8.1 shows structural similarity with conotoxins of the con-ikot-ikot superfamily, with both toxins displaying a saposin-like fold. Functional studies demonstrate that Mu8.1 curtails calcium influx in defined classes of murine somatosensory dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. When tested on a variety of voltage-gated ion channels, Mu8.1 preferentially inhibited the R-type (Cav2.3) calcium channel. Ca2+ signals from Mu8.1-sensitive DRG neurons were also inhibited by SNX-482, a known spider peptide modulator of Cav2.3 and voltage-gated K+ (Kv4) channels. Our findings highlight the potential of Mu8.1 as a molecular tool to identify and study neuronal subclasses expressing Cav2.3. Importantly, this multidisciplinary study demonstrates the feasibility of large, disulfide-rich venom-component investigation, an endeavor that will lead to the discovery of novel structures and functions in the previously underexplored group of macro-conotoxins.