Mutant cycle analysis with modified saxitoxins reveals specific interactions critical to attaining high-affinity inhibition of hNaV1.7.
ABSTRACT: Improper function of voltage-gated sodium channels (NaVs), obligatory membrane proteins for bioelectrical signaling, has been linked to a number of human pathologies. Small-molecule agents that target NaVs hold considerable promise for treatment of chronic disease. Absent a comprehensive understanding of channel structure, the challenge of designing selective agents to modulate the activity of NaV subtypes is formidable. We have endeavored to gain insight into the 3D architecture of the outer vestibule of NaV through a systematic structure-activity relationship (SAR) study involving the bis-guanidinium toxin saxitoxin (STX), modified saxitoxins, and protein mutagenesis. Mutant cycle analysis has led to the identification of an acetylated variant of STX with unprecedented, low-nanomolar affinity for human NaV1.7 (hNaV1.7), a channel subtype that has been implicated in pain perception. A revised toxin-receptor binding model is presented, which is consistent with the large body of SAR data that we have obtained. This new model is expected to facilitate subsequent efforts to design isoform-selective NaV inhibitors.
Project description:Toxin resistance is a recurring evolutionary response by predators feeding on toxic prey. These adaptations impact physiological interaction and community ecology. Mechanisms for resistance vary depending on the predator and the nature of the toxin. Potent neurotoxins like tetrodotoxin (TTX) and saxitoxin (STX) that are highly toxic to humans and other vertebrates, target conserved voltage-gated sodium channels (NaV) of nerve and muscle, causing paralysis. The copepod Calanus finmarchicus consumes the STX-producing dinoflagellate, Alexandrium fundyense with no effect on survival. Using transcriptomic approaches to search for the mechanism that confers resistance in C. finmarchicus, we identified splice variants of NaVs that were predicted to be toxin resistant. These were co-expressed with putatively non-resistant form in all developmental stages. However its expression was unresponsive to toxin challenge nor was there any up-regulation of genes involved in multi-xenobiotic resistance (MXR) or detoxification (phases I or II). Instead, adults consistently regulated genes encoding digestive enzymes, possibly to complement channel resistance by limiting toxin assimilation via the digestive process. The nauplii, which were more susceptible to STX, did not regulate these enzymes. This study demonstrates how deep-sequencing technology can elucidate multiple mechanisms of toxin resistance concurrently, revealing the linkages between molecular/cellular adaptations and the ecology of an organism.
Project description:Toxicity and morphology may function as defense mechanisms of bloom-forming cyanobacteria against zooplankton grazing. Yet, the relative importance of each of these factors and their plasticity remains poorly known. We tested the effects of chemical and morphological traits of the bloom-forming cyanobacterium Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii on the feeding response of the selective feeder Eudiaptomus gracilis (Calanoida, Copepoda), using a saxitoxin-producing strain (STX+) and a non-saxitoxin (STX-)-producing strain as food. From these two chemotypes, we established cultures of three different morphotypes that differed in filament length (short, medium, and long) by incubating the strains at 17, 25, and 32 °C. We hypothesized that the inhibitory effects of saxitoxins determine the avoidance of C. raciborskii, and that morphology would only become relevant in the absence of saxitoxins. Temperature affected two traits: higher temperature resulted in significantly shorter filaments in both strains and led to much higher toxin contents in the STX+ strain (1.7 ?g eq STX L(-1) at 17 °C, 7.9 ?g eq STX L(-1) at 25 °C, and 25.1 ?g eq STX L(-1) at 32 °C). Copepods strongly reduced the ingestion of the STX+ strain in comparison with STX- cultures, regardless of filament length. Conversely, consumption of shorter filaments was significantly higher in the STX- strain. The great plasticity of morphological and chemical traits of C. raciborskii and their resultant contrasting effects on the feeding behavior of zooplankton might explain the success of this cyanobacterium in a variety of aquatic environments.
Project description:Voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSCs) are assembled from two classes of subunits, a pore-bearing ?-subunit (NaV 1) and one or two accessory ?-subunits (NaV ?s). Neurons in mammals can express one or more of seven isoforms of NaV 1 and one or more of four isoforms of NaV ?. The peptide ?-conotoxins, like the guanidinium alkaloids tetrodotoxin (TTX) and saxitoxin (STX), inhibit VGSCs by blocking the pore in NaV 1. Hitherto, the effects of NaV ?-subunit co-expression on the activity of these toxins have not been comprehensively assessed.Four ?-conotoxins (?-TIIIA, ?-PIIIA, ?-SmIIIA and ?-KIIIA), TTX and STX were tested against NaV 1.1, 1.2, 1.6 or 1.7, each co-expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes with one of NaV ?1, ?2, ?3 or ?4 and, for NaV 1.7, binary combinations of thereof.Co-expression of NaV ?-subunits modifies the block by ?-conotoxins: in general, NaV ?1 or ?3 co-expression tended to increase kon (in the most extreme instance by ninefold), whereas NaV ?2 or ?4 co-expression decreased kon (in the most extreme instance by 240-fold). In contrast, the block by TTX and STX was only minimally, if at all, affected by NaV ?-subunit co-expression. Tests of NaV ?1?:??2 chimeras co-expressed with NaV 1.7 suggest that the extracellular portion of the NaV ? subunit is largely responsible for altering ?-conotoxin kinetics.These results are the first indication that NaV ? subunit co-expression can markedly influence ?-conotoxin binding and, by extension, the outer vestibule of the pore of VGSCs. ?-Conotoxins could, in principle, be used to pharmacologically probe the NaV ? subunit composition of endogenously expressed VGSCs.
Project description:Saxitoxins (STXs) are carbamate alkaloid neurotoxins produced by marine "red tide" dinoflagellates and several species of freshwater filamentous cyanobacteria, including Anabaena circinalis, Aphanizomenon spp., Lyngbya wollei, and Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii. A specific quantitative PCR (qPCR) method based on SYBR green chemistry was developed to quantify saxitoxin-producing Anabaena circinalis cyanobacteria, which are major bloom-forming freshwater cyanobacteria. The aim of this study was to infer the potential toxigenicity of samples by determining the copy number of a unique and unusual polyketide synthase (PKS) sequence (sxtA) in the STX biosynthesis gene cluster identified in cyanobacteria. Our qPCR approach was applied to water samples collected from different Australian lakes, dams, and rivers. The STX concentration and cyanobacterial cell density of these blooms were also determined by high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) and microscopic cell counting, respectively. STX concentrations correlated positively with STX gene copy numbers, indicating that the latter can be used as a measure of potential toxigenicity in Anabaena circinalis and possibly other cyanobacterial blooms. The qPCR method targeting STX genes can also be employed for both monitoring and ecophysiological studies of toxic Anabaena circinalis blooms and potentially several other STX-producing cyanobacteria.
Project description:Pain is a medical condition that interferes with normal human life and work and reduces human well-being worldwide. The voltage-gated sodium channel (VGSC) human NaV1.7 (hNaV1.7) is a compelling target that plays a key role in human pain signaling. The 33-residue peptide µ-TRTX-Hhn2b (HNTX-I), a member of NaV-targeting spider toxin (NaSpTx) family 1, has shown negligible activity on mammalian VGSCs, including the hNaV1.7 channel. We engineered analogues of HNTX-I based on sequence conservation in NaSpTx family 1. Substitution of Asn for Ser at position 23 or Asp for His at position 26 conferred potent activity against hNaV1.7. Moreover, multiple site mutations combined together afforded improvements in potency. Ultimately, we generated an analogue E1G?N23S?D26H?L32W with >300-fold improved potency compared with wild-type HNTX-1 on hNaV1.7 (IC50 0.036 ± 0.007 µM). Structural simulation suggested that the charged surface and the hydrophobic surface of the modified peptide are responsible for binding affinity to the hNaV1.7 channel, while variable residues may determine pharmacological specificity. Therefore, this study provides a profile for drug design targeting the hNaV1.7 channel.
Project description:The venom of the spider Heteropoda venatoria produced lethal effect to cockroaches as reported in our previous study, and could be a resource for naturally-occurring insecticides. The present study characterized a novel cockroach voltage-gated sodium channels (NaVs) antagonist, ?-sparatoxin-Hv2 (?-SPRTX-Hv2 for short), from this venom. ?-SPRTX-Hv2 is composed of 37 amino acids and contains six conserved cysteines. We synthesized the toxin by using the chemical synthesis method. The toxin was lethal to cockroaches when intraperitoneally injected, with a LD50 value of 2.8 nmol/g of body weight. Electrophysiological data showed that the toxin potently blocked NaVs in cockroach dorsal unpaired median (DUM) neurons, with an IC50 of 833.7 ± 132.2 nM, but it hardly affected the DUM voltage-gated potassium channels (KVs) and the DUM high-voltage-activated calcium channels (HVA CaVs). The toxin also did not affect NaVs, HVA CaVs, and Kvs in rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons, as well as NaV subtypes NaV1.3?1.5, NaV1.7, and NaV1.8. No envenomation symptoms were observed when ?-SPRTX-Hv2 was intraperitoneally injected into mouse at the dose of 7.0 ?g/g. In summary, ?-SPRTX-Hv2 is a novel insecticidal toxin from H. venatoria venom. It might exhibit its effect by blocking the insect NaVs and is a candidate for developing bioinsecticide.
Project description:Exploring the interaction of ligands with voltage-gated sodium channels (NaVs) has advanced our understanding of their pharmacology. Herein, we report the purification and characterization of a novel non-selective mammalian and bacterial NaVs toxin, JZTx-14, from the venom of the spider Chilobrachys jingzhao. This toxin potently inhibited the peak currents of mammalian NaV1.2?1.8 channels and the bacterial NaChBac channel with low IC50 values (<1 µM), and it mainly inhibited the fast inactivation of the NaV1.9 channel. Analysis of NaV1.5/NaV1.9 chimeric channel showed that the NaV1.5 domain II S3?4 loop is involved in toxin association. Kinetics data obtained from studying toxin?NaV1.2 channel interaction showed that JZTx-14 was a gating modifier that possibly trapped the channel in resting state; however, it differed from site 4 toxin HNTx-III by irreversibly blocking NaV currents and showing state-independent binding with the channel. JZTx-14 might stably bind to a conserved toxin pocket deep within the NaV1.2?1.8 domain II voltage sensor regardless of channel conformation change, and its effect on NaVs requires the toxin to trap the S3?4 loop in its resting state. For the NaChBac channel, JZTx-14 positively shifted its conductance-voltage (G?V) and steady-state inactivation relationships. An alanine scan analysis of the NaChBac S3?4 loop revealed that the 108th phenylalanine (F108) was the key residue determining the JZTx-14?NaChBac interaction. In summary, this study provided JZTx-14 with potent but promiscuous inhibitory activity on both the ancestor bacterial NaVs and the highly evolved descendant mammalian NaVs, and it is a useful probe to understand the pharmacology of NaVs.
Project description:Dinoflagelates and cyanobacteria produce saxitoxin (STX), a lethal bis-guanidinium neurotoxin causing paralytic shellfish poisoning. A number of metazoans have soluble STX-binding proteins that may prevent STX intoxication. However, their STX molecular recognition mechanisms remain unknown. Here, we present structures of saxiphilin (Sxph), a bullfrog high-affinity STX-binding protein, alone and bound to STX. The structures reveal a novel high-affinity STX-binding site built from a "proto-pocket" on a transferrin scaffold that also bears thyroglobulin domain protease inhibitor repeats. Comparison of Sxph and voltage-gated sodium channel STX-binding sites reveals a convergent toxin recognition strategy comprising a largely rigid binding site where acidic side chains and a cation-? interaction engage STX. These studies reveal molecular rules for STX recognition, outline how a toxin-binding site can be built on a naïve scaffold, and open a path to developing protein sensors for environmental STX monitoring and new biologics for STX intoxication mitigation.
Project description:Paralytic shellfish toxins (PST) bind to voltage-gated sodium channels (Nav) and block conduction of action potential in excitable cells. This study aimed to (i) characterize Nav sequences in Crassostrea gigas and (ii) investigate a putative relation between Nav and PST-bioaccumulation in oysters. The phylogenetic analysis highlighted two types of Nav in C. gigas: a Nav1 (CgNav1) and a Nav2 (CgNav2) with sequence properties of sodium-selective and sodium/calcium-selective channels, respectively. Three alternative splice transcripts of CgNav1 named A, B and C, were characterized. The expression of CgNav1, analyzed by in situ hybridization, is specific to nervous cells and to structures corresponding to neuromuscular junctions. Real-time PCR analyses showed a strong expression of CgNav1A in the striated muscle while CgNav1B is mainly expressed in visceral ganglia. CgNav1C expression is ubiquitous. The PST binding site (domain II) of CgNav1 variants possess an amino acid Q that could potentially confer a partial saxitoxin (STX)-resistance to the channel. The CgNav1 genotype or alternative splicing would not be the key point determining PST bioaccumulation level in oysters.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) is a potentially fatal syndrome associated with the consumption of shellfish that have accumulated saxitoxin (STX). STX is produced by microscopic marine dinoflagellate algae. Little is known about the origin and spread of saxitoxin genes in these under-studied eukaryotes. Fortuitously, some freshwater cyanobacteria also produce STX, providing an ideal model for studying its biosynthesis. Here we focus on saxitoxin-producing cyanobacteria and their non-toxic sisters to elucidate the origin of genes involved in the putative STX biosynthetic pathway. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:We generated a draft genome assembly of the saxitoxin-producing (STX+) cyanobacterium Anabaena circinalis ACBU02 and searched for 26 candidate saxitoxin-genes (named sxtA to sxtZ) that were recently identified in the toxic strain Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii T3. We also generated a draft assembly of the non-toxic (STX-) sister Anabaena circinalis ACFR02 to aid the identification of saxitoxin-specific genes. Comparative phylogenomic analyses revealed that nine putative STX genes were horizontally transferred from non-cyanobacterial sources, whereas one key gene (sxtA) originated in STX+ cyanobacteria via two independent horizontal transfers followed by fusion. In total, of the 26 candidate saxitoxin-genes, 13 are of cyanobacterial provenance and are monophyletic among the STX+ taxa, four are shared amongst STX+ and STX-cyanobacteria, and the remaining nine genes are specific to STX+ cyanobacteria. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE:Our results provide evidence that the assembly of STX genes in ACBU02 involved multiple HGT events from different sources followed presumably by coordination of the expression of foreign and native genes in the common ancestor of STX+ cyanobacteria. The ability to produce saxitoxin was subsequently lost multiple independent times resulting in a nested relationship of STX+ and STX- strains among Anabaena circinalis strains.