Partial agonist and antagonist activities of a mutant scorpion β-toxin on sodium channels

Izhar Karbat, Nitza Ilan, Joel Z. Zhang, Lior Cohen, Roy Kahn, Morris Benveniste, Todd Scheuer, William A. Catterall, Dalia Gordon, Michael Gurevitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Scorpion β-toxin 4 from Centruroides suffusus suffusus (Css4) enhances the activation of voltage-gated sodium channels through a voltage sensor trapping mechanism by binding the activated state of the voltage sensor in domain II and stabilizing it in its activated conformation. Here we describe the antagonist and partial agonist properties of a mutant derivative of this toxin. Substitution of seven different amino acid residues for Glu15 in Css4 yielded toxin derivatives with both increased and decreased affinities for binding to neurotoxin receptor site 4 on sodium channels. Css4E15R is unique among this set of mutants in that it retained nearly normal binding affinity but lost its functional activity for modification of sodium channel gating in our standard electrophysiological assay for voltage sensor trapping. More detailed analysis of the functional effects of Css4E15R revealed weak voltage sensor trapping activity, which was very rapidly reversed upon repolarization and therefore was not observed in our standard assay of toxin effects. This partial agonist activity of Css4E15R is observed clearly in voltage sensor trapping assays with brief (5 ms) repolarization between the conditioning prepulse and the test pulse. The effects of Css4 E15R are fit well by a three-step model of toxin action involving concentration-dependent toxin binding to its receptor site followed by depolarization-dependent activation of the voltage sensor and subsequent voltage sensor trapping. Because it is a partial agonist with much reduced efficacy for voltage sensor trapping, Css4E15R can antagonize the effects of wild-type Css4 on sodium channel activation and can prevent paralysis by Css4 when injected into mice. Our results define the first partial agonist and antagonist activities for scorpion toxins and open new avenues of research toward better understanding of the structure-function relationships for toxin action on sodium channel voltage sensors and toward potential toxin-based therapeutics to prevent lethality from scorpion envenomation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30531-30538
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Volume285
Issue number40
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology

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