Identification of a novel pharmacophore for peptide toxins interacting with K+ channels

  • Verdier L
  • Al-Sabi A
  • Rivier J
 et al. 
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KappaM-conotoxin RIIIK blocks TSha1 K+ channels from trout with high affinity by interacting with the ion channel pore. As opposed to many other peptides targeting K+ channels, kappaM-RIIIK does not possess a functional dyad. In this study we combine thermodynamic mutant cycle analysis and docking calculations to derive the binding mode of kappaM-conotoxin RIIIK to the TSha1 channel. The final model reveals a novel pharmacophore, where no positively charged side chain occludes the channel pore. Instead the positive-charged residues of the toxin form a basic ring; kappaM-RIIIK is anchored to the K+ channel via electrostatic interactions of this basic ring with the loop and pore helix residues of the channel. The channel amino acid Glu-354 is likely to be a fundamental determinant of the selectivity of kappaM-RIIIK for the TSha1 channel. The Cgamma-OH of Hyp-15 is in contact with the carbonyls of the selectivity filter, disturbing the charge distribution pattern necessary for the coordination of K+ ions. This novel, experimentally based pharmacophore model proves the existence of diverse binding modes of peptidic toxins to K+ channels and underlines the role of intermolecular electrostatic interactions involving channel loop side chains in determining the selectivity of toxins for specific K+ channel types.

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  • Laurent Verdier

  • Ahmed Al-Sabi

  • Jean E F Rivier

  • Baldomero M. Olivera

  • Heinrich Terlau

  • Teresa Carlomagno

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