Discovery of a potent and selective α3β4 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist from an α-conotoxin synthetic combinatorial library.
ABSTRACT: α-Conotoxins are disulfide-rich peptide neurotoxins that selectively inhibit neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). The α3β4 nAChR subtype has been identified as a novel target for managing nicotine addiction. Using a mixture-based positional-scanning synthetic combinatorial library (PS-SCL) with the α4/4-conotoxin BuIA framework, we discovered a highly potent and selective α3β4 nAChR antagonist. The initial PS-SCL consisted of a total of 113 379 904 sequences that were screened for α3β4 nAChR inhibition, which facilitated the design and synthesis of a second generation library of 64 individual α-conotoxin derivatives. Eleven analogues were identified as α3β4 nAChR antagonists, with TP-2212-59 exhibiting the most potent antagonistic activity and selectivity over the α3β2 and α4β2 nAChR subtypes. Final electrophysiological characterization demonstrated that TP-2212-59 inhibited acetylcholine evoked currents in α3β4 nAChRs heterogeneously expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes with a calculated IC50 of 2.3 nM and exhibited more than 1000-fold selectivity over the α3β2 and α7 nAChR subtypes. As such, TP-2212-59 is among the most potent α3β4 nAChRs antagonists identified to date and further demonstrates the utility of mixture-based combinatorial libraries in the discovery of novel α-conotoxin derivatives with refined pharmacological activity.
Project description:Different nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subtypes are implicated in learning, pain sensation, and disease states, including Parkinson disease and nicotine addiction. alpha-Conotoxins are among the most selective nAChR ligands. Mechanistic insights into the structure, function, and receptor interaction of alpha-conotoxins may serve as a platform for development of new therapies. Previously characterized alpha-conotoxins have a highly conserved Ser-Xaa-Pro motif that is crucial for potent nAChR interaction. This study characterized the novel alpha-conotoxin LtIA, which lacks this highly conserved motif but potently blocked alpha3beta2 nAChRs with a 9.8 nm IC(50) value. The off-rate of LtIA was rapid relative to Ser-Xaa-Pro-containing alpha-conotoxin MII. Nevertheless, pre-block of alpha3beta2 nAChRs with LtIA prevented the slowly reversible block associated with MII, suggesting overlap in their binding sites. nAChR beta subunit ligand-binding interface mutations were used to examine the >1000-fold selectivity difference of LtIA for alpha3beta2 versus alpha3beta4 nAChRs. Unlike MII, LtIA had a >900-fold increased IC(50) value on alpha3beta2(F119Q) versus wild type nAChRs, whereas T59K and V111I beta2 mutants had little effect. Molecular docking simulations suggested that LtIA had a surprisingly shallow binding site on the alpha3beta2 nAChR that includes beta2 Lys-79. The K79A mutant disrupted LtIA binding but was without effect on an LtIA analog where the Ser-Xaa-Pro motif is present, consistent with distinct binding modes.
Project description:Cone snails produce a fast-acting and often paralyzing venom that is usually injected into their prey or predator through a hypodermic needle-like modified radula tooth. Many diverse compounds are found in their venom including small molecules, peptides and enzymes. However, peptidic toxins called conotoxins (10⁻40 residues and 2⁻4 disulfide bonds) largely dominate these cocktails. These disulfide rich toxins are very valuable pharmacological tools for investigating the function of ions channels, G-protein coupled receptors, transporters and enzymes. Here, we report on the synthesis, structure determination and biological activities of two α-conotoxins, CIA and CIB, found in the predatory venom of the piscivorous species Conus catus. CIA is a typical 3/5 α-conotoxin that blocks the rat muscle type nAChR with an IC50 of 5.7 nM. Interestingly, CIA also inhibits the neuronal rat nAChR subtype α3β2 with an IC50 of 2.06 μM. CIB is a 4/7 α-conotoxin that blocks rat neuronal nAChR subtypes, including α3β2 (IC50 = 128.9 nM) and α7 (IC50 = 1.51 μM). High resolution NMR structures revealed typical α-conotoxin folds for both peptides. We also investigated the in vivo effects of these toxins on fish, since both peptides were identified in the predatory venom of C. catus. Consistent with their pharmacology, CIA was highly paralytic to zebrafish (ED50 = 110 μg/kg), whereas CIB did not affect the mobility of the fish. In conclusion, CIA likely participates in prey capture through muscle paralysis, while the putative ecological role of CIB remains to be elucidated.
Project description:α-Conotoxins are peptide toxins found in the venom of marine cone snails and potent antagonists of various subtypes of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). nAChRs are cholinergic receptors forming ligand-gated ion channels in the plasma membranes of certain neurons and the neuromuscular junction. Because nAChRs have an important role in regulating transmitter release, cell excitability, and neuronal integration, nAChR dysfunctions have been implicated in a variety of severe pathologies such as epilepsy, myasthenic syndromes, schizophrenia, Parkinson disease, and Alzheimer disease. To expand the knowledge concerning cone snail toxins, we examined the venom of Conus longurionis. We isolated an 18-amino acid peptide named α-conotoxin Lo1a, which is active on nAChRs. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first characterization of a conotoxin from this species. The peptide was characterized by electrophysiological screening against several types of cloned nAChRs expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes. The three-dimensional solution structure of the α-conotoxin Lo1a was determined by NMR spectroscopy. Lo1a, a member of the α4/7 family, blocks the response to acetylcholine in oocytes expressing α7 nAChRs with an IC50 of 3.24 ± 0.7 μM. Furthermore, Lo1a shows a high selectivity for neuronal versus muscle subtype nAChRs. Because Lo1a has an unusual C terminus, we designed two mutants, Lo1a-ΔD and Lo1a-RRR, to investigate the influence of the C-terminal residue. Lo1a-ΔD has a C-terminal Asp deletion, whereas in Lo1a-RRR, a triple-Arg tail replaces the Asp. They blocked the neuronal nAChR α7 with a lower IC50 value, but remarkably, both adopted affinity for the muscle subtype α1β1δε.
Project description:In Naja kaouthia cobra venom, we have earlier discovered a covalent dimeric form of α-cobratoxin (αCT-αCT) with two intermolecular disulfides, but we could not determine their positions. Here, we report the αCT-αCT crystal structure at 1.94 Å where intermolecular disulfides are identified between Cys(3) in one protomer and Cys(20) of the second, and vice versa. All remaining intramolecular disulfides, including the additional bridge between Cys(26) and Cys(30) in the central loops II, have the same positions as in monomeric α-cobratoxin. The three-finger fold is essentially preserved in each protomer, but the arrangement of the αCT-αCT dimer differs from those of noncovalent crystallographic dimers of three-finger toxins (TFT) or from the κ-bungarotoxin solution structure. Selective reduction of Cys(26)-Cys(30) in one protomer does not affect the activity against the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR), whereas its reduction in both protomers almost prevents α7 nAChR recognition. On the contrary, reduction of one or both Cys(26)-Cys(30) disulfides in αCT-αCT considerably potentiates inhibition of the α3β2 nAChR by the toxin. The heteromeric dimer of α-cobratoxin and cytotoxin has an activity similar to that of αCT-αCT against the α7 nAChR and is more active against α3β2 nAChRs. Our results demonstrate that at least one Cys(26)-Cys(30) disulfide in covalent TFT dimers, similar to the monomeric TFTs, is essential for their recognition by α7 nAChR, although it is less important for interaction of covalent TFT dimers with the α3β2 nAChR.
Project description:The molluskan acetylcholine-binding protein (AChBP) is a homolog of the extracellular binding domain of the pentameric ligand-gated ion channel family. AChBP most closely resembles the alpha-subunit of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and in particular the homomeric alpha7 nicotinic receptor. We report the isolation and characterization of an alpha-conotoxin that has the highest known affinity for the Lymnaea AChBP and also potently blocks the alpha7 nAChR subtype when expressed in Xenopus oocytes. Remarkably, the peptide also has high affinity for the alpha3beta2 nAChR indicating that alpha-conotoxin OmIA in combination with the AChBP may serve as a model system for understanding the binding determinants of alpha3beta2 nAChRs. alpha-Conotoxin OmIA was purified from the venom of Conus omaria. It is a 17-amino-acid, two-disulfide bridge peptide. The ligand is the first alpha-conotoxin with higher affinity for the closely related receptor subtypes, alpha3beta2 versus alpha6beta2, and selectively blocks these two subtypes when compared with alpha2beta2, alpha4beta2, and alpha1beta1deltaepsilon nAChRs.
Project description:Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are ligand-gated ion channels that belong to the superfamily of Cys loop receptors. Valuable insight into the orthosteric ligand binding to nAChRs in recent years has been obtained from the crystal structures of acetylcholine-binding proteins (AChBPs) that share significant sequence homology with the amino-terminal domains of the nAChRs. alpha-Conotoxins, which are isolated from the venom of carnivorous marine snails, selectively inhibit the signaling of neuronal nAChR subtypes. Co-crystal structures of alpha-conotoxins in complex with AChBP show that the side chain of a highly conserved proline residue in these toxins is oriented toward the hydrophobic binding pocket in the AChBP but does not have direct interactions with this pocket. In this study, we have designed and synthesized analogues of alpha-conotoxins ImI and PnIA[A10L], by introducing a range of substituents on the Pro(6) residue in these toxins to probe the importance of this residue for their binding to the nAChRs. Pharmacological characterization of the toxin analogues at the alpha(7) nAChR shows that although polar and charged groups on Pro(6) result in analogues with significantly reduced antagonistic activities, analogues with aromatic and hydrophobic substituents in the Pro(6) position exhibit moderate activity at the receptor. Interestingly, introduction of a 5-(R)-phenyl substituent at Pro(6) in alpha-conotoxin ImI gives rise to a conotoxin analogue with a significantly higher binding affinity and antagonistic activity at the alpha(7) nAChR than those exhibited by the native conotoxin.
Project description:The ?3* nAChRs, which are considered to be promising drug targets for problems such as pain, addiction, cardiovascular function, cognitive disorders etc., are found throughout the central and peripheral nervous system. The ?-conotoxin (?-CTx) LvIA has been identified as the most selective inhibitor of ?3?2 nAChRs known to date, and it can distinguish the ?3?2 nAChR subtype from the ?6/?3?2?3 and ?3?4 nAChR subtypes. However, the mechanism of its selectivity towards ?3?2, ?6/?3?2?3, and ?3?4 nAChRs remains elusive. Here we report the co-crystal structure of LvIA in complex with Aplysia californica acetylcholine binding protein (Ac-AChBP) at a resolution of 3.4 Å. Based on the structure of this complex, together with homology modeling based on other nAChR subtypes and binding affinity assays, we conclude that Asp-11 of LvIA plays an important role in the selectivity of LvIA towards ?3?2 and ?3/?6?2?3 nAChRs by making a salt bridge with Lys-155 of the rat ?3 subunit. Asn-9 lies within a hydrophobic pocket that is formed by Met-36, Thr-59, and Phe-119 of the rat ?2 subunit in the ?3?2 nAChR model, revealing the reason for its more potent selectivity towards the ?3?2 nAChR subtype. These results provide molecular insights that can be used to design ligands that selectively target ?3?2 nAChRs, with significant implications for the design of new therapeutic ?-CTxs.
Project description:Human-secreted Ly-6/uPAR-related protein-2 (SLURP-2) regulates the growth and differentiation of epithelial cells. Previously, the auto/paracrine activity of SLURP-2 was considered to be mediated via its interaction with the α3β2 subtype of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). Here, we describe the structure and pharmacology of a recombinant analogue of SLURP-2. Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy revealed a 'three-finger' fold of SLURP-2 with a conserved β-structural core and three protruding loops. Affinity purification using cortical extracts revealed that SLURP-2 could interact with the α3, α4, α5, α7, β2, and β4 nAChR subunits, revealing its broader pharmacological profile. SLURP-2 inhibits acetylcholine-evoked currents at α4β2 and α3β2-nAChRs (IC50 ~0.17 and >3 μM, respectively) expressed in Xenopus oocytes. In contrast, at α7-nAChRs, SLURP-2 significantly enhances acetylcholine-evoked currents at concentrations <1 μM but induces inhibition at higher concentrations. SLURP-2 allosterically interacts with human M1 and M3 muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (mAChRs) that are overexpressed in CHO cells. SLURP-2 was found to promote the proliferation of human oral keratinocytes via interactions with α3β2-nAChRs, while it inhibited cell growth via α7-nAChRs. SLURP-2/mAChRs interactions are also probably involved in the control of keratinocyte growth. Computer modeling revealed possible SLURP-2 binding to the 'classical' orthosteric agonist/antagonist binding sites at α7 and α3β2-nAChRs.
Project description:Alpha-conotoxins are small disulfide-constrained peptides from cone snails that act as antagonists at specific subtypes of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). The 13-residue peptide alpha-conotoxin RgIA (alpha-RgIA) is a member of the alpha-4,3 family of alpha-conotoxins and selectively blocks the alpha9alpha10 nAChR subtype, in contrast to another well-characterized member of this family, alpha-conotoxin ImI (alpha-ImI), which is a potent inhibitor of the alpha7 and alpha3beta2 nAChR subtypes. In this study, we have altered side chains in both the four-residue and the three-residue loops of alpha-RgIA, and have modified its C-terminus. The effects of these changes on activity against alpha9alpha10 and alpha7 nAChRs were measured; the solution structures of alpha-RgIA and its Y10W, D5E, and P6V analogues were determined from NMR data; and resonance assignments were made for alpha-RgIA [R9A]. The structures for alpha-RgIA and its three analogues were well defined, except at the chain termini. Comparison of these structures with reported structures of alpha-ImI reveals a common two-loop backbone architecture within the alpha-4,3 family, but with variations in side-chain solvent accessibility and orientation. Asp5, Pro6, and Arg7 in loop 1 are critical for blockade of both the alpha9alpha10 and the alpha7 subtypes. In loop 2, alpha-RgIA [Y10W] had activity near that of wild-type alpha-RgIA, with high potency for alpha9alpha10 and low potency for alpha7, and had a structure similar to that of wild type. By contrast, Arg9 in loop 2 is critical for specific binding to the alpha9alpha10 subtype, probably because it is larger and more solvent accessible than Ala9 in alpha-ImI. Our findings contribute to a better understanding of the molecular basis for antagonism of the alpha9alpha10 nAChR subtype, which is a target for the development of analgesics for the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain.
Project description:Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are targets for developing new drugs to treat severe pain, nicotine addiction, Alzheimer disease, epilepsy, etc. ?-Conotoxins are biologically and chemically diverse. With 12-19 residues and two disulfides, they can be specifically selected for different nAChRs. Acetylcholine-binding proteins from Aplysia californica (Ac-AChBP) are homologous to the ligand-binding domains of nAChRs and pharmacologically similar. X-ray structures of the ?-conotoxin in complex with Ac-AChBP in addition to computer modeling have helped to determine the binding site of the important residues of ?-conotoxin and its affinity for nAChR subtypes. Here, we present the various ?-conotoxin residues that are selective for Ac-AChBP or nAChRs by comparing the structures of ?-conotoxins in complex with Ac-AChBP and by modeling ?-conotoxins in complex with nAChRs. The knowledge of these binding sites will assist in the discovery and design of more potent and selective ?-conotoxins as drug leads.