Spider Knottin Pharmacology at Voltage-Gated Sodium Channels and Their Potential to Modulate Pain Pathways.
ABSTRACT: Voltage-gated sodium channels (NaVs) are a key determinant of neuronal signalling. Neurotoxins from diverse taxa that selectively activate or inhibit NaV channels have helped unravel the role of NaV channels in diseases, including chronic pain. Spider venoms contain the most diverse array of inhibitor cystine knot (ICK) toxins (knottins). This review provides an overview on how spider knottins modulate NaV channels and describes the structural features and molecular determinants that influence their affinity and subtype selectivity. Genetic and functional evidence support a major involvement of NaV subtypes in various chronic pain conditions. The exquisite inhibitory properties of spider knottins over key NaV subtypes make them the best lead molecules for the development of novel analgesics to treat chronic pain.
Project description:Gating modifier toxins (GMTs) are venom-derived peptides isolated from spiders and other venomous creatures and modulate activity of disease-relevant voltage-gated ion channels and are therefore being pursued as therapeutic leads. The amphipathic surface profile of GMTs has prompted the proposal that some GMTs simultaneously bind to the cell membrane and voltage-gated ion channels in a trimolecular complex. Here, we examined whether there is a relationship among spider GMT amphipathicity, membrane binding, and potency or selectivity for voltage-gated sodium (NaV) channels. We used NMR spectroscopy and in silico calculations to examine the structures and physicochemical properties of a panel of nine GMTs and deployed surface plasmon resonance to measure GMT affinity for lipids putatively found in proximity to NaV channels. Electrophysiology was used to quantify GMT activity on NaV1.7, an ion channel linked to chronic pain. Selectivity of the peptides was further examined against a panel of NaV channel subtypes. We show that GMTs adsorb to the outer leaflet of anionic lipid bilayers through electrostatic interactions. We did not observe a direct correlation between GMT amphipathicity and affinity for lipid bilayers. Furthermore, GMT-lipid bilayer interactions did not correlate with potency or selectivity for NaVs. We therefore propose that increased membrane binding is unlikely to improve subtype selectivity and that the conserved amphipathic GMT surface profile is an adaptation that facilitates simultaneous modulation of multiple NaVs.
Project description:Voltage-gated sodium channels (Navs) play an important role in human pain sensation. However, the expression and role of Nav subtypes in native human sensory neurons are unclear. To address this issue, we obtained human dorsal root ganglion (hDRG) tissues from healthy donors. PCR analysis of seven DRG-expressed Nav subtypes revealed that the hDRG has higher expression of Nav1.7 (~50% of total Nav expression) and lower expression of Nav1.8 (~12%), whereas the mouse DRG has higher expression of Nav1.8 (~45%) and lower expression of Nav1.7 (~18%). To mimic Nav regulation in chronic pain, we treated hDRG neurons in primary cultures with paclitaxel (0.1-1 ?mol/L) for 24 h. Paclitaxel increased the Nav1.7 but not Nav1.8 expression and also increased the transient Na+ currents and action potential firing frequency in small-diameter (<50 ?m) hDRG neurons. Thus, the hDRG provides a translational model in which to study "human pain in a dish" and test new pain therapeutics.
Project description:BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:Naturally occurring dysfunction of voltage-gated sodium (NaV ) channels results in complex disorders such as chronic pain, making these channels an attractive target for new therapies. In the pursuit of novel NaV modulators, we investigated spider venoms for new inhibitors of NaV channels. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH:We used high-throughput screens to identify a NaV modulator in venom of the spider Davus fasciatus. Further characterization of this venom peptide was undertaken using fluorescent and electrophysiological assays, molecular modelling and a rodent pain model. KEY RESULTS:We identified a potent NaV inhibitor named ?-TRTX-Df1a. This 34-residue peptide fully inhibited responses mediated by NaV 1.7 endogenously expressed in SH-SY5Y cells. Df1a also inhibited voltage-gated calcium (CaV 3) currents but had no activity against the voltage-gated potassium (KV 2) channel. The modelled structure of Df1a, which contains an inhibitor cystine knot motif, is reminiscent of the NaV channel toxin ProTx-I. Electrophysiology revealed that Df1a inhibits all NaV subtypes tested (hNaV 1.1-1.7). Df1a also slowed fast inactivation of NaV 1.1, NaV 1.3 and NaV 1.5 and modified the voltage-dependence of activation and inactivation of most of the NaV subtypes. Df1a preferentially binds to the domain II voltage-sensor and has additional interactions with the voltage sensors domains III and IV, which probably explains its modulatory features. Df1a was analgesic in vivo, reversing the spontaneous pain behaviours induced by the NaV activator OD1. CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS:?-TRTX-Df1a shows potential as a new molecule for the development of drugs to treat pain disorders mediated by voltage-gated ion channels.
Project description: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:Voltage-gated sodium (Nav) channels respond to changes in the membrane potential of excitable cells through the concerted action of four voltage-sensor domains (VSDs). Subtype Nav1.7 plays an important role in the propagation of signals in pain-sensing neurons and is a target for the clinical development of novel analgesics. Certain inhibitory cystine knot (ICK) peptides produced by venomous animals potently modulate Nav1.7; however, the molecular mechanisms underlying their selective binding and activity remain elusive. This study reports on the design of a library of photoprobes based on the potent spider toxin Huwentoxin-IV and the determination of the toxin binding interface on VSD2 of Nav1.7 through a photocrosslinking and tandem mass spectrometry approach. Our Huwentoxin-IV probes selectively crosslink to extracellular loop S1-S2 and helix S3 of VSD2 in a chimeric channel system. Our results provide a strategy that will enable mapping of sites of interaction of other ICK peptides on Nav channels.
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:Voltage-gated sodium (Nav) channels initiate action potentials in most neurons, including primary afferent nerve fibres of the pain pathway. Local anaesthetics block pain through non-specific actions at all Nav channels, but the discovery of selective modulators would facilitate the analysis of individual subtypes of these channels and their contributions to chemical, mechanical, or thermal pain. Here we identify and characterize spider (Heteroscodra maculata) toxins that selectively activate the Nav1.1 subtype, the role of which in nociception and pain has not been elucidated. We use these probes to show that Nav1.1-expressing fibres are modality-specific nociceptors: their activation elicits robust pain behaviours without neurogenic inflammation and produces profound hypersensitivity to mechanical, but not thermal, stimuli. In the gut, high-threshold mechanosensitive fibres also express Nav1.1 and show enhanced toxin sensitivity in a mouse model of irritable bowel syndrome. Together, these findings establish an unexpected role for Nav1.1 channels in regulating the excitability of sensory nerve fibres that mediate mechanical pain.
Project description:Spider venom-derived cysteine knot peptides are a mega-diverse class of molecules that exhibit unique pharmacological properties to modulate key membrane protein targets. Voltage-gated sodium channels (NaV) are often targeted by these peptides to allosterically promote opening or closing of the channel by binding to structural domains outside the channel pore. These effects can result in modified pain responses, muscle paralysis, cardiac arrest, priapism, and numbness. Although such effects are often deleterious, subtype selective spider venom peptides are showing potential to treat a range of neurological disorders, including chronic pain and epilepsy. This review examines the structure-activity relationships of cysteine knot peptides from spider venoms that modulate NaV and discusses their potential as leads to novel therapies for neurological disorders.
Project description:Chronic pain is a serious worldwide health issue, with current analgesics having limited efficacy and dose-limiting side effects. Humans with loss-of-function mutations in the voltage-gated sodium channel NaV 1.7 (hNaV 1.7) are indifferent to pain, making hNaV 1.7 a promising target for analgesic development. Since spider venoms are replete with NaV channel modulators, we examined their potential as a source of hNaV 1.7 inhibitors.We developed a high-throughput fluorescent-based assay to screen spider venoms against hNaV 1.7 and isolate 'hit' peptides. To examine the binding site of these peptides, we constructed a panel of chimeric channels in which the S3b-S4 paddle motif from each voltage sensor domain of hNaV 1.7 was transplanted into the homotetrameric KV 2.1 channel.We screened 205 spider venoms and found that 40% contain at least one inhibitor of hNaV 1.7. By deconvoluting 'hit' venoms, we discovered seven novel members of the NaSpTx family 1. One of these peptides, Hd1a (peptide ?-TRTX-Hd1a from venom of the spider Haplopelma doriae), inhibited hNaV 1.7 with a high level of selectivity over all other subtypes, except hNaV 1.1. We showed that Hd1a is a gating modifier that inhibits hNaV 1.7 by interacting with the S3b-S4 paddle motif in channel domain II. The structure of Hd1a, determined using heteronuclear NMR, contains an inhibitor cystine knot motif that is likely to confer high levels of chemical, thermal and biological stability.Our data indicate that spider venoms are a rich natural source of hNaV 1.7 inhibitors that might be useful leads for the development of novel analgesics.
Project description:Voltage-gated, sodium ion-selective channels (NaV) generate electrical signals contributing to the upstroke of the action potential in animals. NaVs are also found in bacteria and are members of a larger family of tetrameric voltage-gated channels that includes CaVs, KVs, and NaVs. Prokaryotic NaVs likely emerged from a homotetrameric Ca2+-selective voltage-gated progenerator, and later developed Na+ selectivity independently. The NaV signaling complex in eukaryotes contains auxiliary proteins, termed beta (?) subunits, which are potent modulators of the expression profiles and voltage-gated properties of the NaV pore, but it is unknown whether they can functionally interact with prokaryotic NaV channels. Herein, we report that the eukaryotic NaV?1-subunit isoform interacts with and enhances the surface expression as well as the voltage-dependent gating properties of the bacterial NaV, NaChBac in Xenopus oocytes. A phylogenetic analysis of the ?-subunit gene family proteins confirms that these proteins appeared roughly 420 million years ago and that they have no clear homologues in bacterial phyla. However, a comparison between eukaryotic and bacterial NaV structures highlighted the presence of a conserved fold, which could support interactions with the ?-subunit. Our electrophysiological, biochemical, structural, and bioinformatics results suggests that the prerequisites for ?-subunit regulation are an evolutionarily stable and intrinsic property of some voltage-gated channels.