Discovery, Pharmacological Characterisation and NMR Structure of the Novel µ-Conotoxin SxIIIC, a Potent and Irreversible NaV Channel Inhibitor
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Voltage-gated sodium (NaV) channel subtypes, including NaV1.7, are promising targets for the treatment of neurological diseases, such as chronic pain. Cone snail-derived µ-conotoxins are small, potent NaV channel inhibitors which represent potential drug leads. Of the 22 µ-conotoxins characterised so far, only a small number, including KIIIA and CnIIIC, have shown inhibition against human NaV1.7. We have recently identified a novel µ-conotoxin, SxIIIC, from Conus striolatus. Here we present the isolation of native peptide, chemical synthesis, characterisation of human NaV channel activity by whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology and analysis of the NMR solution structure. SxIIIC displays a unique NaV channel selectivity profile (1.4 > 1.3 > 1.1 ≈ 1.6 ≈ 1.7 > 1.2 >> 1.5 ≈ 1.8) when compared to other µ-conotoxins and represents one of the most potent human NaV1.7 putative pore blockers (IC50 152.2 ± 21.8 nM) to date. NMR analysis reveals the structure of SxIIIC includes the characteristic α-helix seen in other µ-conotoxins. Future investigations into structure-activity relationships of SxIIIC are expected to provide insights into residues important for NaV channel pore blocker selectivity and subsequently important for chronic pain drug development.