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Papers of the Week

Papers: 27 Jun 2020 - 3 Jul 2020

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2020 Jun 25

Biochem Pharmacol

Critical Residue Properties for Potency and Selectivity of α-Conotoxin RgIA Towards α9α10 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors.


Huynh PN, Harvey PJ, Gajewiak J, Craik DJ, Michael McIntosh J
Biochem Pharmacol. 2020 Jun 25:114124.
PMID: 32593612.


The α9α10 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) has been characterized as an effective anti-pain target that functions through a non-opioid mechanism. However, as a pentameric ion channel comprised of two different subunits, the specific targeting of α9α10 nAChRs has proven challenging. Previously the 13-amino-acid peptide, RgIA, was shown to block α9α10 nAChRs with high potency and specificity. This peptide, characterized from the venom of the carnivorous marine snail, Conus regius, produced analgesia in several rodent models of chronic pain. Despite promising pre-clinical data in behavioral assays, the number of specific α9α10 nAChR antagonists remains small and the physiological mechanisms of analgesia remain cryptic. In this study, we implement amino-acid substitutions to definitively characterize the chemical properties of RgIA that contribute to its activity against α9α10 nAChRs. Using this mutational approach, we determined the vital role of biochemical side-chain properties and amino acids in the second loop that are amenable to substitutions to further engineer next-generation analogs for the blockade of α9α10 nAChRs.