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Molluscivorous Conus toxins as probes for voltage and ligand gated ion channels in molluscs
Fainzilber, M.; Gordon, D.C.; Zlotkin, E. (1994). Molluscivorous Conus toxins as probes for voltage and ligand gated ion channels in molluscs. Neth. J. Zool. 44(3-4): 486-494
In: Netherlands Journal of Zoology. E.J. Brill: Leiden. ISSN 0028-2960, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Fainzilber, M.
  • Gordon, D.C.
  • Zlotkin, E.

    Venomous Conus snails are highly specific in their feeding ecology, and include a group of some 50 species that feed only on other molluscs. The present work was based on the hypothesis that molluscivorours Conus toxins have undergone targeting to unique sites in prey excitable systems, and may therefore serve as selective probes for molluscan ion channels. Over the past four yeas we have examined molluscivorous Conus venoms using in vitro bioassays (Patella, Mytilus), and pharmalogical experiments in Helix CNS. Parallel assays have been performed by collaborating groups using electrophysiological techniques on isolated Aplysia or Lymaea neurons. A series of mollusc selective toxins have been characterized both chemically and pharmacologically. All the toxins are small (16-32 amino acid residues) cysteine-rich peptides. They differ from most previously characterized conotoxins in their charge, and in their relatively high content of hydrophobic residues. From the pharmacological point of view three categories of toxins have been characterised so far: (1) neuronal acetylcholine receptor blockers; (2) sodium channel blockers; and (3) toxins that slow inactivation of sodium channels. In addition, recent observations inLymnaea systems suggest the existence of a number of calcium channel blockers in molluscivorous Conus venoms. These toxins provide useful tools for neurobiologists working with molluscan models, and are extremely selective probes for ion channel structure and function.

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