A single amino acid replacement results in the Ca2+-induced self-assembly of a helical conantokin-based peptide.

PMID 15476416


Conantokins are short (17-27 amino acid residues), gamma-carboxyglutamate (Gla)-rich peptide components of the venoms of marine snails of the genus Conus. They display high apo and/or Ca(2+)-induced helicity and act as potent and selective inhibitors of the N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR). We have previously established that one of the conantokins, conantokin-G (con-G), self-associates in the presence of Ca(2+) with high specificity for antiparallel chain orientation [Dai, Q., Prorok, M., and Castellino, F. J. (2004) J. Mol. Biol. 336, 731-744]. The dimerization appears to be driven by interhelical Ca(2+) coordination between the following residue pairings: Gla(3)-Gla(14)('), Gla(7)-Gla(10)('), Gla(10)-Gla(7)('), and Gla(14)-Gla(3)('). A second member of the conantokin family, conantokin-T (con-T), shares sequence identity with con-G at 8 of 21 amino acids, including 4 Gla residues. These similarities notwithstanding, several primary and secondary structural differences exist between con-T and con-G. Particularly notable is that con-T contains a Lys, rather than a Gla, at position 7. Moreover, unlike con-G, con-T does not undergo Ca(2+)-triggered self-assembly. In the present study, sedimentation equilibrium ultracentrifugation is employed to demonstrate that a single amino acid replacement analogue of con-T, con-T[K7gamma], assumes a dimeric superstructure in the presence of Ca(2+) at pH values consistent with the ionization of Gla carboxylate groups. Furthermore, HPLC-monitored thiol-disulfide folding and rearrangement assays with Cys-containing con-T variants suggest that the relative chain alignment preference in the noncovalent complex is antiparallel. Our results suggest that interchain Ca(2+) coordination in con-T[K7gamma] is incumbent upon an "i, i + 4, i +7, i +11" arrangement of Gla residues, as occurs in native con-G.

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Conantokin G, ≥75% (HPLC)