The 1.1 Å crystal structure of the neuronal acetylcholine receptor antagonist, α-conotoxin PnIA from Conus pennaceus
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Background: α-Conotoxins are peptide toxins, isolated from Conus snails, that block the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR). The 16-residue peptides PnIA and PnIB from Conus pennaceus incorporate the same disulfide framework as other α-conotoxins but differ in function from most α-conotoxins by blocking the neuronal nAChR, rather than the skeletal muscle subtype. The crystal structure determination of PnIA was undertaken to identify structural and surface features that might be important for biological activity. Results The 1.1 å crystal structure of synthetic PnIA was determined by direct methods using the Shake-and-Bake program. The three-dimensional structure incorporates a β turn followed by two α-helical turns. The conformation is stabilised by two disulfide bridges that form the interior of the molecule, with all other side chains oriented outwards. Conclusion The compact architecture of the PnIA toxin provides a rigid framework for presentation of chemical groups that are required for activity. The structure is characterized by distinct hydrophobic and polar surfaces; a 16 å separation of the sole positive and negative charges (these two charged residues being located at opposite ends of the molecule); a hydrophobic region and a protruding tyrosine side chain. These features may be important for the specific interaction of PnIA with neuronal nAChR.
Biochemistry and Cell Biology not elsewhere classified