Spider-venom peptides that target voltage-gated sodium channels: Pharmacological tools and potential therapeutic leads

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Journal Article
Toxicon, 2012, 60 (4), pp. 478 - 491
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Voltage-gated sodium (NaV) channels play a central role in the propagation of action potentials in excitable cells in both humans and insects. Many venomous animals have therefore evolved toxins that modulate the activity of NaVchannels in order to subdue their prey and deter predators. Spider venoms in particular are rich in NaVchannel modulators, with one-third of all known ion channel toxins from spider venoms acting on NaVchannels. Here we review the landscape of spider-venom peptides that have so far been described to target vertebrate or invertebrate NaVchannels. These peptides fall into 12 distinct families based on their primary structure and cysteine scaffold. Some of these peptides have become useful pharmacological tools, while others have potential as therapeutic leads because they target specific NaVchannel subtypes that are considered to be important analgesic targets. Spider venoms are conservatively predicted to contain more than 10 million bioactive peptides and so far only 0.01% of this diversity been characterised. Thus, it is likely that future research will reveal additional structural classes of spider-venom peptides that target NaVchannels. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
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