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Open Access Research article

Antillatoxin is a sodium channel activator that displays unique efficacy in heterologously expressed rNav1.2, rNav1.4 and rNav1.5 alpha subunits

Zhengyu Cao13, William H Gerwick2 and Thomas F Murray1*

Author Affiliations

1 Creighton University, School of Medicine, Department of Pharmacology, Omaha, NE, 68178, USA

2 Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, California, 92093-0212, USA

3 Department of Molecular Biosciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California at Davis, Davis, California, 95616, USA

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BMC Neuroscience 2010, 11:154  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-11-154

Published: 14 December 2010

Abstract

Background

Antillatoxin (ATX) is a structurally unique lipopeptide produced by the marine cyanobacterium Lyngbya majuscula. ATX activates voltage-gated sodium channel α-subunits at an undefined recognition site and stimulates sodium influx in neurons. However, the pharmacological properties and selectivity of ATX on the sodium channel α-subunits were not fully characterized.

Results

In this study, we characterized the pharmacological properties and selectivity of ATX in cells heterologously expressing rNav1.2, rNav1.4 or rNav1.5 α-subunits by using the Na+ selective fluorescent dye, sodium-binding benzofuran isophthalate. ATX produced sodium influx in cells expressing each sodium channel α-subunit, whereas two other sodium channel activators, veratridine and brevetoxin-2, were without effect. The ATX potency at rNav1.2, rNav1.4 and rNav1.5 did not differ significantly. Similarly, there were no significant differences in the efficacy for ATX-induced sodium influx between rNav1.2, rNav1.4 and rNav1.5 α-subunits. ATX also produced robust Ca2+ influx relative to other sodium channel activators in the calcium-permeable DEAA mutant of rNav1.4 α-subunit. Finally, we demonstrated that the 8-demethyl-8,9-dihydro-antillatoxin analog was less efficacious and less potent in stimulating sodium influx.

Conclusions

ATX displayed a unique efficacy with respect to stimulation of sodium influx in cells expressing rNav1.2, rNav1.4 and rNav1.5 α-subunits. The efficacy of ATX was distinctive inasmuch as it was not shared by activators of neurotoxin sites 2 and 5 on VGSC α-subunits. Given the unique pharmacological properties of ATX interaction with sodium channel α-subunits, decoding the molecular determinants and mechanism of action of antillatoxin may provide further insight into sodium channel gating mechanisms.