Depolarization Differentially Affects Allosteric Modulation by Neurotoxins of Scorpion α-Toxin Binding on Voltage-Gated Sodium Channels

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Voltage-gated sodium channels serve as a target for many neurotoxins that bind to several distinct, allosterically interacting receptor sites. We examined the effect of membrane potentials (incited by increasing external K+ concentrations) on the binding modulation by veratridine, brevetoxin, and tetrodotoxin of the scorpion α-toxin AaH II to receptor site 3 on sodium channels of rat brain synaptosomes. Depolarization is shown to differentially modulate neurotoxin effects on AaH II binding: Veratridine increase is potentiated, brevetoxin's inhibitory effect is reduced, and tetrodotoxin enhancement is evident mainly at resting membrane potential (5 mM K+). Both tetrodotoxin and veratridine apparently reverse the inhibition of AaH II binding by brevetoxin at resting membrane potential, but only veratridine is able to partially restore AaH II binding at 0 mV (135 mM K+). Thus, the allosteric interactions are grouped into two categories, depending on the membrane potential. Under depolarized conditions, the cooperative effects among veratridine and brevetoxin on AaH II binding fit the previously described two-state conformational model. At resting membrane potential, additional interactions are revealed, which may be explained by assuming that toxin binding induces conformational changes on the channel structure, in addition to being state-dependent. Our results provide a new insight into neurotoxin action and the complex dynamic changes underlying allosteric coupling of neurotoxin receptor sites, which may be related to channel gating.

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