Toxin determinants required for interaction with voltage-gated K+ channels

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Ion channel-acting toxins are mainly short peptides generally present in minute amounts in the venoms of diverse animal species such as scorpions, snakes, spiders, marine cone snails and sea anemones. Interestingly, these peptides have evolved over time on the basis of clearly distinct architectural motifs present throughout the animal kingdom, but display convergent molecular determinants and functional homologies. As a consequence of this conservation of some key determinants, it has also been evidenced that toxin targets display some common evolutionary origins. Indeed, these peptides often target ion channels and ligand-gated receptors, though other interacting molecules such as enzymes have been further evidenced. In this review, we provide an overview of some selected peptides from various animal species that act on specific K+ conducting voltage-gated ion channels. In particular, we emphasize our global analysis on the structural determinants of these molecules that are required for the recognition of a particular ion channel pore structure, a property that should be correlated to the blocking efficacy of the K+ efflux out of the cell during channel opening. A better understanding of these molecular determinants is valuable to better specify and derive useful peptide pharmacological properties.

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