Structure-guided transformation of charybdotoxin yields an analog that selectively targets Ca2+-activated over voltage-gated K+ channels

Heiko Rauer, Mark D. Lanigan, Michael W. Pennington, Jayashree Aiyar, Sanjiv Ghanshani, Michael D. Cahalan, Raymond S. Norton, K. George Chandy

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104 Citations (Scopus)


We have used a structure-based design strategy to transform the polypeptide toxin charybdotoxin, which blocks several voltage-gated and Ca2+-activated K+ channels, into a selective inhibitor. As a model system, we chose two channels in T-lymphocytes, the voltage-gated channel Kv1.3 and the Ca2+-activated channel IKCa1. Homology models of both channels were generated based on the crystal structure of the bacterial channel KcsA. Initial docking of charybdotoxin was undertaken with both models, and the accuracy of these docking configurations was tested by mutant cycle analyses, establishing that charybdotoxin has a similar docking configuration in the external vestibules of IKCa1 and Kv1.3. Comparison of the refined models revealed a unique cluster of negatively charged residues in the turret of Kv1.3, not present in IKCa1. To exploit this difference, three novel charybdotoxin analogs were designed by introducing negatively charged residues in place of charybdotoxin Lys32, which lies in close proximity to this cluster. These analogs block IKCa1 with ~20-fold higher affinity than Kv1.3. The other charybdotoxin-sensitive Kv channels, Kv1.2 and Kv1.6, contain the negative cluster and are predictably insensitive to the charybdotoxin position 32 analogs, whereas the maxi-K(Ca) channel, hSlo, lacking the cluster, is sensitive to the analogs. This provides strong evidence for topological similarity of the external vestibules of diverse K+ channels and demonstrates the feasibility of using structure-based strategies to design selective inhibitors for mammalian K+ channels. The availability of potent and selective inhibitors of IKCa1 will help to elucidate the role of this channel in T-lymphocytes during the immune response as well as in erythrocytes and colonic epithelia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1201-1208
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes

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