Gating modifier toxins of voltage-gated calcium channels

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Some of the most potent and specific inhibitors of voltage-gated calcium channels are peptide toxins that inhibit channel function not by occlusion of the channel pore, but rather by interfering with the voltage dependence and kinetics of channel opening and closing. Many such gating modifier toxins conform to the inhibitor cystine knot structural family and have primary sequence or functional mechanism similar to toxins that target voltage-gated sodium or potassium channels. This review introduces known gating modifiers of calcium channels, discusses the selectivity, binding sites, and mechanism of the toxin–channel interaction, and reviews the usefulness of these toxins as research tools and as the basis for novel calcium channel pharmacology and therapeutics.

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