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Papers of the Week

Papers: 23 Jan 2021 - 29 Jan 2021

Animal Studies, Pharmacology/Drug Development

2021 Jan 22

J Biol Chem

Engineering of highly potent and selective HNTX-III mutant against hNa1.7 sodium channel for treatment of pain.


Zhang Y, Wang L, Peng D, Zhang Q, Yang Q, Li J, Li D, Tang D, Chen M, Liang S, Liu Y, Wang S, Liu Z
J Biol Chem. 2021 Jan 22:100326.
PMID: 33493520.


Human voltage-gated sodium channel (VGSC) Na1.7 (hNa1.7) is involved in the generation and conduction of neuropathic and nociceptive pain signals. Compelling genetic and preclinical studies have validated that hNa1.7 is a therapeutic target for the treatment of pain, however there is a dearth of currently available compounds capable of targeting hNav1.7 with high potency and specificity. Hainantoxin-III (HNTX-III) is a 33-residue polypeptide from the venom of the spider Ornithoctonus hainana. It is a selective antagonist of neuronal tetrodotoxin-sensitive voltage-gated sodium channels. Here, we report the engineering of improved potency and Na selectivity of hNa1.7 inhibition peptides derived from the HNTX-III scaffold. Alanine scanning mutagenesis showed key residues for HNTX-III interacting with hNa1.7. Site-directed mutagenesis analysis indicated key residues on hNa1.7 interacting with HNTX-III. Molecular docking was conducted to clarify the binding interface between HNTX-III and Nav1.7 and guide the molecular engineering process. Ultimately, we obtained H4 [K0G1-P18K-A21L-V] based on molecular docking of HNTX-III and hNa1.7 with a 30-fold improved potency (IC 0.007 ± 0.001 μM) and > 1000-fold selectivity against Na1.4 and Na1.5. H4 also showed robust analgesia in the acute and chronic inflammatory pain model and neuropathic pain model. Thus, our results provide further insight into peptide toxins that may prove useful in guiding the development of inhibitors with improved potency and selectivity for Na subtypes with robust analgesia.