Peptide-Membrane Interactions Affect the Inhibitory Potency and Selectivity of Spider Toxins ProTx-II and GpTx-1

Nicole Lawrence, Bin Wu, Joseph Ligutti, Olivier Cheneval, Akello Joanna Agwa, Aurélie H Benfield, Kaustav Biswas, David J Craik, Les P Miranda, Sónia Troeira Henriques, Christina I Schroeder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (SciVal)


Gating modifier toxins (GMTs) from spider venom can inhibit voltage gated sodium channels (NaVs) involved in pain signal transmission, including the NaV1.7 subtype. GMTs have a conserved amphipathic structure that allow them to interact with membranes and also with charged residues in regions of NaV that are exposed at the cell surface. ProTx-II and GpTx-1 are GMTs able to inhibit NaV1.7 with high potency, but they differ in their ability to bind to membranes and in their selectivity over other NaV subtypes. To explore these differences and gain detailed information on their membrane-binding ability and how this relates to potency and selectivity, we examined previously described NaV1.7 potent/selective GpTx-1 analogues and new ProTx-II analogues designed to reduce membrane binding and improve selectivity for NaV1.7. Our studies reveal that the number and type of hydrophobic residues as well as how they are presented at the surface determine the affinity of ProTx-II and GpTx-1 for membranes and that altering these residues can have dramatic effects on NaV inhibitory activity. We demonstrate that strong peptide-membrane interactions are not essential for inhibiting NaV1.7 and propose that hydrophobic interactions instead play an important role in positioning the GMT at the membrane surface proximal to exposed NaV residues, thereby affecting peptide-channel interactions. Our detailed structure-activity relationship study highlights the challenges of designing GMT-based molecules that simultaneously achieve high potency and selectivity for NaV1.7, as single mutations can induce local changes in GMT structure that can have a major impact on NaV-inhibitory activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)118-130
Number of pages13
JournalACS Chemical Biology
Issue number1
Early online date3 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2019


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