Structural Basis for Tetrodotoxin-resistant Sodium Channel Binding by μ-Conotoxin SmIIIA

David W. Keizer, Peter J. West, Erinna F. Lee, Doju Yoshikami, Baldomero M. Olivera, Grzegorz Bulaj, Raymond S. Norton

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52 Citations (Scopus)


SmIIIA is a new μ-conotoxin isolated recently from Conus stercusmuscarum. Although it shares several biochemical characteristics with other μ-conotoxins (the arrangement of cysteine residues and a conserved arginine believed to interact with residues near the channel pore), it has several distinctive features, including the absence of hydroxyproline, and is the first specific antagonist of tetrodotoxin-resistant voltage-gated sodium channels to be characterized. It therefore represents a potentially useful tool to investigate the functional roles of these channels. We have determined the three-dimensional structure of SmIIIA in aqueous solution. Consistent with the absence of hydroxyprolines, SmIIIA adopts a single conformation with all peptide bonds in the trans configuration. The spatial orientations of several conserved Arg and Lys side chains, including Arg14 (using a consensus numbering system), which plays a key role in sodium channel binding, are similar to those in other μ-conotoxins but the N-terminal regions differ, reflecting the trans conformation for the peptide bond preceding residue 8 in SmIIIA, as opposed to the cis conformation in μ-conotoxins GIIIA and GIIIB. Comparison of the surfaces of SmIIIA with other μ-conotoxins suggests that the affinity of SmIIIA for TTX-resistant channels is influenced by the Trp 15 side chain, which is unique to SmIIIA. Arg17, which replaces Lys in the other μ-conotoxins, may also be important. Consistent with these inferences from the structure, assays of two chimeras of SmIIIA and PIIIA in which their N- and C-terminal halves were recombined, indicated that residues in the C-terminal half of SmIIIA confer affinity for tetrodotoxin-resistant sodium channels in the cell bodies of frog sympathetic neurons. SmIIIA and the chimera possessing the C-terminal half of SmIIIA also inhibit tetrodotoxin-resistant sodium channels in the postganglionic axons of sympathetic neurons, as indicated by their inhibition of C-neuron compound action potentials that persist in the presence of tetrodotoxin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46805-46813
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number47
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2003
Externally publishedYes

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