The omega-atracotoxins: Selective blockers of insect M-LVA and HVA calcium channels

Youmie Chong, Jessica L Hayes, Brianna Sollod, Suping Wen, David T R Wilson, Peter G Hains, Wayne Clarence Hodgson, Kevin W Broady, Glenn Frederick King, Graham Michael Nicholson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The omega-atracotoxins (omega-ACTX) are a family of arthropod-selective peptide neurotoxins from Australian funnel-web spider venoms (Hexathelidae: Atracinae) that are candidates for development as biopesticides. We isolated a 37-residue insect-selective neurotoxin, omega-ACTX-Ar1a, from the venom of the Sydney funnel-web spider Atrax robustus, with high homology to several previously characterized members of the omega-ACTX-1 family. The peptide induced potent excitatory symptoms, followed by flaccid paralysis leading to death, in acute toxicity tests in house crickets. Using isolated smooth and skeletal nerve-muscle preparations, the toxin was shown to lack overt vertebrate toxicity at concentrations up to 1muM. To further characterize the target of the omega-ACTXs, voltage-clamp analysis using the whole-cell patch-clamp technique was undertaken using cockroach dorsal unpaired median neurons. It is shown here for the first time that omega-ACTX-Ar1a, and its homolog omega-ACTX-Hv1a from Hadronyche versuta, reversibly block both mid-low- (M-LVA) and high-voltage-activated (HVA) insect calcium channel (Ca(v)) currents. This block occurred in the absence of alterations in the voltage-dependence of Ca(v) channel activation, and was voltage-independent, suggesting that omega-ACTX-1 family toxins are pore blockers rather than gating modifiers. At a concentration of 1muM omega-ACTX-Ar1a failed to significantly affect global K(v) channel currents. However, 1muM omega-ACTX-Ar1a caused a modest 18 block of insect Na(v) channel currents, similar to the minor block of Na(v) channels reported for other insect Ca(v) channel blockers such as omega-agatoxin IVA. These findings validate both M-LVA and HVA Ca(v) channels as potential targets for insecticides.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623 - 638
Number of pages16
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Volume74
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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