Structural plasticity of mini-M conotoxins - expression of all mini-M subtypes by Conus regius.
ABSTRACT: The mini-M conotoxins are peptidic scaffolds found in the venom of cones snails. These scaffolds are tightly folded structures held together by three disulfide bonds with a CC-C-C-CC arrangement (conotoxin framework III) and belong to the M Superfamily of conotoxins. Here, we describe mini-M conotoxins from the venom of Conus regius, a Western Atlantic worm-hunting cone snail species using transcriptomic and peptidomic analyses. These C. regius conotoxins belong to three different subtypes: M1, M2, and M3. The subtypes show little sequence homology, and their loop sizes (intercysteine amino acid chains) vary significantly. The mini-Ms isolated from dissected venom contains preferentially hydroxylated proline residues, thus augmenting the structural reach of this conotoxin class. Using 2D-NMR methods, we have determined the 3D structure of reg3b, an M2 subtype conotoxin, which shows a constrained multi-turn scaffold. The structural diversity found within mini-M conotoxin scaffolds of C. regius is indicative of structural hypervariability of the conotoxin M superfamily that is not seen in other superfamilies. These stable minimalistic scaffolds may be investigated for the development of engineered peptides for therapeutic applications. DATABASES:Sequences are available in GenBank under accession numbers MF588935-MF588952. Structural data are available in the RCSB protein database under the accession code 6BX9.
Project description:Alpha-conotoxins isolated from Conus venoms contain 11-19 residues and preferentially fold into the globular conformation that possesses a specific disulfide pairing pattern (C1-3, C2-4). We and others isolated a new family of chi-conotoxins (also called lambda conotoxins) with the conserved cysteine framework of alpha-conotoxins but with alternative disulfide pairing (C1-4, C2-3) resulting in the ribbon conformation. In both families, disulfide pairing and hence folding are important for their biological potency. By comparing the structural differences, we identified potential structural determinants responsible for the folding tendencies of these conotoxins. We examined the role of conserved proline in the first intercysteine loop and the conserved C-terminal amide on folding patterns of synthetic analogues of ImI conotoxin by comparing the isoforms with the regiospecifically synthesized conformers. Deamidation at the C-terminus and substitution of proline in the first intercysteine loop switch the folding pattern from the globular form of alpha-conotoxins to the ribbon form of chi/lambda-conotoxins. The findings are corroborated by reciprocal folding of CMrVIA chi/lambda-conotoxins. Substitution of Lys-6 from the first intercysteine loop of CMrVIA conotoxin with proline, as well as the inclusion of an amidated C-terminal shifted the folding preference of CMrVIA conotoxin from its native ribbon conformation toward the globular conformation. Binding assays of ImI conotoxin analogues with Aplysia and Bulinus acetylcholine binding protein indicate that both these substitutions and their consequent conformational change substantially impact the binding affinity of ImI conotoxin. These results strongly indicate that the first intercysteine loop proline and C-terminal amidation act as conformational switches in alpha- and chi/lambda-conotoxins.
Project description:Cone snails are gastropod mollusks of the genus Conus that live in tropical marine habitats. They are predators that paralyze their prey by injection of venom containing a plethora of small, conformationally constrained peptides (conotoxins). We report the identification, characterization, and structure of a gamma-carboxyglutamic acid-containing peptide, conotoxin epsilon-TxIX, isolated from the venom of the molluscivorous cone snail, Conus textile. The disulfide bonding pattern of the four cysteine residues, an unparalleled degree of posttranslational processing including bromination, hydroxylation, and glycosylation define a family of conotoxins that may target presynaptic Ca2+ channels or act on G protein-coupled presynaptic receptors via another mechanism. This conotoxin selectively reduces neurotransmitter release at an Aplysia cholinergic synapse by reducing the presynaptic influx of Ca2+ in a slow and reversible fashion. The three-dimensional structure, determined by two-dimensional 1H NMR spectroscopy, identifies an electronegative patch created by the side chains of two gamma-carboxyglutamic acid residues that extend outward from a cavernous cleft. The glycosylated threonine and hydroxylated proline enclose a localized hydrophobic region centered on the brominated tryptophan residue within the constrained intercysteine region.
Project description:Conotoxin genes are among the most rapidly evolving genes currently known; however, despite the well-established hypervariability of the intercysteine loops, the cysteines demonstrate significant conservation, with a site-specific codon bias for each cysteine in a family of conotoxins. Herein we present a novel rationale behind the codon-level conservation of the cysteines that comprise the disulfide scaffold. We analyze cysteine codon conservation using an internal reference and phylogenetic tools; our results suggest that the established codon conservation can be explained as the result of selective pressures linked to the production efficiency and folding of conotoxins, driving the conservation of cysteine at the amino-acid level. The preservation of cysteine has resulted in maintenance of the ancestral codon in most of the daughter lineages, despite the hypervariability of adjacent residues. We propose that the selective pressures acting on the venom components of cone snails involve an interplay of biosynthetic efficiency, activity at the target receptor and the importance of that activity to effective prey immobilization. Functional redundancy in the venom can thus serve as a buffer for the energy expenditure of venom production.
Project description:Disulfide-rich peptides are highly abundant in nature and their study has provided fascinating insight into protein folding, structure and function. Venomous cone snails belong to a group of organisms that express one of the largest sets of disulfide-rich peptides (conotoxins) found in nature. The diversity of structural scaffolds found for conotoxins suggests that specialized molecular adaptations have evolved to ensure their efficient folding and secretion. We recently showed that canonical protein disulfide isomerase (PDI) and a conotoxin-specific PDI (csPDI) are ubiquitously expressed in the venom gland of cone snails and play a major role in conotoxin folding. Here, we identify cone snail endoplasmic reticulum oxidoreductin-1 (Conus Ero1) and investigate its role in the oxidative folding of conotoxins through reoxidation of cone snail PDI and csPDI. We show that Conus Ero1 preferentially reoxidizes PDI over csPDI, suggesting that the reoxidation of csPDI may rely on an Ero1-independent molecular pathway. Despite the preferential reoxidation of PDI over csPDI, the combinatorial effect of Ero1 and csPDI provides higher folding yields than Ero1 and PDI. We further demonstrate that the highest in vitro folding rates of two model conotoxins are achieved when all three enzymes are present, indicating that these enzymes may act synergistically. Our findings provide new insight into the generation of one of the most diverse classes of disulfide-rich peptides and may improve current in vitro approaches for the production of venom peptides for pharmacological studies.
Project description:Background:Conopeptides are neuropharmacological peptides derived from the venomous salivary glands of cone snails. Among 29 superfamilies based on conserved signal sequences, T-superfamily conotoxins, which belong to the smallest group, include four different frameworks that contain four cysteines denominated I, V, X and XVI. In this work, the primary structure and the cysteine connectivity of novel conotoxin of Conus bandanus were determined by tandem mass spectrometry using collision-induced dissociation. Methods:The venom glands of C. bandanus snails were dissected, pooled, and extracted with 0.1% trifluoroacetic acid in three steps and lyophilized. The venom was fractionated and purified in an HPLC system with an analytical reversed-phase C18 column. The primary peptide structure was analyzed by MALDI TOF MS/MS using collision-induced dissociation and confirmed by Edman's degradation. The peptide's cysteine connectivity was determined by rapid partial reduction-alkylation technique. Results:The novel conotoxin, NGC1C2(I/L)VREC3C4, was firstly derived from de novo sequencing by MS/MS. The presence of isoleucine residues in this conotoxin was confirmed by the Edman degradation method. The conotoxin, denominated Bn5a, belongs to the T1-subfamily of conotoxins. However, the disulfide bonds (C1-C4/C2-C3) of Bn5a were not the same as found in other T1-subfamily conopeptides but shared common connectivities with T2-subfamily conotoxins. The T1-conotoxin of C. bandanus proved the complexity of the disulfide bond pattern of conopeptides. The homological analysis revealed that the novel conotoxin could serve as a valuable probe compound for the human-nervous-system norepinephrine transporter. Conclusion:We identified the first T1-conotoxin, denominated Bn5a, isolated from C. bandanus venom. However, Bn5a conotoxin exhibited unique C1-C4/C2-C3 disulfide connectivity, unlike other T1-conotoxins (C1-C3/C2-C4). The structural and homological analyses herein have evidenced novel conotoxin Bn5a that may require further investigation.
Project description:Alpha-conotoxin GIC is a 16-residue peptide isolated from the venom of the cone snail Conus geographus. Alpha-conotoxin GIC potently blocks the alpha3beta2 subtype of human nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, showing a high selectivity for neuronal versus muscle subtype [McIntosh, Dowell, Watkins, Garrett, Yoshikami, and Olivera (2002) J. Biol. Chem. 277, 33610-33615]. We have now determined the three-dimensional solution structure of alpha-conotoxin GIC by NMR spectroscopy. The structure of alpha-conotoxin GIC is well defined with backbone and heavy atom root mean square deviations (residues 2-16) of 0.53 A and 0.96 A respectively. Structure and surface comparison of alpha-conotoxin GIC with the other alpha4/7 subfamily conotoxins reveals unique structural aspects of alpha-conotoxin GIC. In particular, the structural comparison between alpha-conotoxins GIC and MII indicates molecular features that may confer their similar receptor specificity profile, as well as those that provide the unique binding characteristics of alpha-conotoxin GIC.
Project description:The primary objective of this study was to realize the large-scale discovery of conotoxin sequences from different organs (including the venom duct, venom bulb and salivary gland) of the vermivorous Oak cone snail, Conus quercinus. Using high-throughput transcriptome sequencing, we identified 133 putative conotoxins that belong to 34 known superfamilies, of which nine were previously reported while the remaining 124 were novel conotoxins, with 17 in new and unassigned conotoxin groups. A-, O?-, M-, and I?- superfamilies were the most abundant, and the cysteine frameworks XIII and VIII were observed for the first time in the A- and I?-superfamilies. The transcriptome data from the venom duct, venom bulb and salivary gland showed considerable inter-organizational variations. Each organ had many exclusive conotoxins, and only seven of all the inferred mature peptides were common in the three organs. As expected, most of the identified conotoxins were synthesized in the venom duct at relatively high levels; however, a number of conotoxins were also identified in the venom bulb and the salivary gland with very low transcription levels. Therefore, various organs have different conotoxins with high diversity, suggesting greater contributions from several organs to the high-throughput discovery of new conotoxins for future drug development.
Project description:Cone snails comprise approximately 700 species of venomous molluscs which have evolved the ability to generate multiple toxins with varied and exquisite selectivity. alpha-Conotoxin is a powerful tool for defining the composition and function of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors which play a crucial role in excitatory neurotransmission and are important targets for drugs and insecticides. An alpha4/7 conotoxin, Lp1.1, originally identified by cDNA and genomic DNA cloning from Conus leopardus, was found devoid of the highly conserved Pro residue in the first intercysteine loop. To further study this toxin, alpha-Lp1.1 was chemically synthesized and refolded into its globular disulfide isomer. The synthetic Lp1.1 induced seizure and paralysis on freshwater goldfish and selectively reversibly inhibited ACh-evoked currents in Xenopus oocytes expressing rat alpha3beta2 and alpha6alpha3beta2 nAChRs. Comparing the distinct primary structure with other functionally related alpha-conotoxins could indicate structural features in Lp1.1 that may be associated with its unique receptor recognition profile.
Project description:Conotoxins are peptide neurotoxins produced by predatory cone snails. They are mostly cysteine-rich short peptides with remarkable structural diversity. The conserved signal peptide sequences of their mRNA-encoded precursors have enabled the grouping of known conotoxins into a limited number of superfamilies. However, the conotoxins within each superfamily often present variable sequences, cysteine frameworks, and post-translational modifications. To understand better how conotoxins are diversified, we performed a venomic study with C. flavidus, an uninvestigated vermivorous Conus species, by combining transcriptomic and proteomic analyses. In order to obtain the full-length conotoxin sequences, protease digestion was not performed with the venom extraction prior to spectra acquisition via tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS). Because conotoxins are produced from mRNA-encoded precursors by means of proteolytic cleavage, nonspecific digestion of precursors was applied during the database search. Special attention was also paid in interpreting the MS/MS spectra. All together, these analyses identified 69 nonredundant cDNA sequences and 31 conotoxin components with confident MS/MS spectra. A new Q-superfamily was also identified. More importantly, this study revealed that conotoxin-encoding transcripts are diversified by hypermutation, fragment insertion/deletion, and mutation-induced premature termination, and that a single mRNA species can produce multiple toxin products through alternative post-translational modifications and alternative cleavages of the translated precursor. These multiple diversification strategies at different levels may explain, at least in part, the diversity of conotoxins, and provide the basis for further investigation.
Project description:Conus ateralbus is a cone snail endemic to the west side of the island of Sal, in the Cabo Verde Archipelago off West Africa. We describe the isolation and characterization of the first bioactive peptide from the venom of this species. This 30AA venom peptide is named conotoxin AtVIA (?-conotoxin-like). An excitatory activity was manifested by the peptide on a majority of mouse lumbar dorsal root ganglion neurons. An analog of AtVIA with conservative changes on three amino acid residues at the C-terminal region was synthesized and this analog produced an identical effect on the mouse neurons. AtVIA has homology with ?-conotoxins from other worm-hunters, which include conserved sequence elements that are shared with ?-conotoxins from fish-hunting Conus. In contrast, there is no comparable sequence similarity with ?-conotoxins from the venoms of molluscivorous Conus species. A rationale for the potential presence of ?-conotoxins, that are potent in vertebrate systems in two different lineages of worm-hunting cone snails, is discussed.