International journal of peptide and protein research

Structure-activity relationship study of a scorpion toxin with high affinity for apamin-sensitive potassium channels by means of the solution structure of analogues.

PMID 7591483


Scorpion venoms contain numerous toxic polypeptides displaying various pharmacological activities. These toxins interact with ion channels of excitable membranes. Long toxins (60-70 amino acids) are known to interact with sodium channels, whereas most of the short toxins (31-37 amino acids) found their toxicity in modifying the potassium channel functions. A family of short scorpion toxins are known to interact specifically with apamin-sensitive calcium-activated potassium channels. Structure-activity relationship studies of these toxins have demonstrated that a short region located on the solvent-exposed side of an alpha-helix is involved in the interaction with their receptor. Two positions, i.e. residues 6 and 7 in the sequence, are essential for the full activity of these molecules. We have synthesized analogues of these toxins and demonstrated that the three-dimensional structure is not affected by these mutations, and thus that the observed variations of activity are only due to the chemical function carried by the side chain. This interaction between the toxins and their receptor is thus purely electrostatic.