Discovery of Methylene Thioacetal-Incorporated α-RgIA Analogues as Potent and Stable Antagonists of the Human α9α10 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor for the Treatment of Neuropathic Pain


Journal of Medicinal Chemistry


Zheng, N., Christensen, S. B., Dowell, C., Purushottam, L., Skalicky, J. J., McIntosh, J. M., & Chou, D. H.-C.



α9-Containing nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are key targets for the treatment of neuropathic pain. α-Conotoxin RgIA4 is a peptide antagonist of human α9α10 nAChRs with high selectivity. However, structural rearrangement reveals a potential liability for clinical applications. We herein report our designer RgIA analogues stabilized by methylene thioacetal as nonopioid analgesic agents. We demonstrate that replacing disulfide loop I [CysI–CysIII] with methylene thioacetal in the RgIA skeleton results in activity loss, whereas substitution of loop II [CysII–CysIV] can be accommodated. The lead molecule, RgIA-5524, exhibits highly selective inhibition of α9α10 nAChRs with an IC50 of 0.9 nM and much reduced degradation in human serum. In vivo studies showed that RgIA-5524 relieves chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain in wild type but not α9 knockout mouse models, demonstrating that α9-containing nAChRs are necessary for the therapeutic effects. This work highlights the application of methylene thioacetal as a disulfide surrogate in conotoxin-based, disulfide-rich peptide drugs.

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