Fluorescent Peptide Toxin for Selective Visualization of the Voltage-Gated Potassium Channel KV1.3

Dorothy C.C. Wai, Muhammad Umair Naseem, Gábor Mocsár, Sanjeevini Babu Reddiar, Yijun Pan, Agota Csoti, Peter Hajdu, Cameron Nowell, Joseph A. Nicolazzo, Gyorgy Panyi, Raymond S. Norton

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Upregulation of the voltage-gated potassium channel KV1.3 is implicated in a range of autoimmune and neuroinflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, and type I diabetes. Understanding the expression, localization, and trafficking of KV1.3 in normal and disease states is key to developing targeted immunomodulatory therapies. HsTX1[R14A], an analogue of a 34-residue peptide toxin from the scorpion Heterometrus spinifer, binds KV1.3 with high affinity (IC50 of 45 pM) and selectivity (2000-fold for KV1.3 over KV1.1). We have synthesized a fluorescent analogue of HsTX1[R14A] by N-terminal conjugation of a Cy5 tag. Electrophysiology assays show that Cy5-HsTX1[R14A] retains activity against KV1.3 (IC50 ∼0.9 nM) and selectivity over a range of other potassium channels (KV1.2, KV1.4, KV1.5, KV1.6, KCa1.1 and KCa3.1), as well as selectivity against heteromeric channels assembled from KV1.3/KV1.5 tandem dimers. Live imaging of CHO cells expressing green fluorescent protein-tagged KV1.3 shows co-localization of Cy5-HsTX1[R14A] and KV1.3 fluorescence signals at the cell membrane. Moreover, flow cytometry demonstrated that Cy5-HsTX1[R14A] can detect KV1.3-expressing CHO cells. Stimulation of mouse microglia by lipopolysaccharide, which enhances membrane expression of KV1.3, was associated with increased staining by Cy5-HsTX1[R14A], demonstrating that it can be used to identify KV1.3 in disease-relevant models of inflammation. Furthermore, the biodistribution of Cy5-HsTX1[R14A] could be monitored using ex vivo fluorescence imaging of organs in mice dosed subcutaneously with the peptide. These results illustrate the utility of Cy5-HsTX1[R14A] as a tool for visualizing KV1.3, with broad applicability in fundamental investigations of KV1.3 biology, and the validation of novel disease indications where KV1.3 inhibition may be of therapeutic value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2197–2212
Number of pages16
JournalBioconjugate Chemistry
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2022

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