The Putative Bioactive Surface of Insect-selective Scorpion Excitatory Neurotoxins Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Scorpion neurotoxins of the excitatory group show total specificity for insects and serve as invaluable probes for insect sodium channels. However, despite their significance and potential for application in insect-pest control, the structural basis for their bioactivity is still unknown. We isolated, characterized, and expressed an atypically long excitatory toxin, Bj-xtrIT, whose bioactive features resembled those of classical excitatory toxins, despite only 49% sequence identity. With the objective of clarifying the toxic site of this unique pharmacological group, Bj-xtrIT was employed in a genetic approach using point mutagenesis and biological and structural assays of the mutant products. A primary target for modification was the structurally unique C-terminal region. Sequential deletions of C-terminal residues suggested an inevitable significance of Ile73 and Ile74 for toxicity. Based on the bioactive role of the C-terminal region and a comparison of Bj-xtrIT with a Bj-xtrIT-based model of a classical excitatory toxin, AaHIT, a conserved surface comprising the C terminus is suggested to form the site of recognition with the sodium channel receptor.

publication date

  • March 1, 1999