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Synthetic α-Conotoxin Mutants as Probes for Studying Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors and in the Development of Novel Drug Leads

Author(s): Christopher J. Armishaw

Journal: Toxins
ISSN 2072-6651

Volume: 2;
Issue: 6;
Start page: 1471;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: α-conotoxin | nicotinic acetylcholine receptor | acetylcholine binding protein | structure-activity relationship studies | mutational analysis

α-Conotoxins are peptide neurotoxins isolated from venomous marine cone snails that are potent and selective antagonists for different subtypes of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). As such, they are valuable probes for dissecting the role that nAChRs play in nervous system function. In recent years, extensive insight into the binding mechanisms of α-conotoxins with nAChRs at the molecular level has aided in the design of synthetic analogs with improved pharmacological properties. This review examines the structure-activity relationship studies involving α-conotoxins as research tools for studying nAChRs in the central and peripheral nervous systems and their use towards the development of novel therapeutics.