Block of T-type calcium channels by protoxins I and II

Chris Bladen, Jawed Hamid, Ivana A. Souza, Gerald W. Zamponi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
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Background Low-voltage-activated (T-type) calcium channels play a crucial role in a number of physiological processes, including neuronal and cardiac pacemaker activity and nociception. Therefore, finding specific modulators and/or blockers of T-type channels has become an important field of drug discovery. One characteristic of T-type calcium channels is that they share several structural similarities with voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSCs). We therefore hypothesized that binding sites for certain sodium channel blocking peptide toxins may be present in T-type calcium channels. Findings The sodium channel blocker ProTx I tonically blocked native and transiently expressed Ttype channels in the sub- to low micro molar range with at least a ten-fold selectivity for the T-type calcium channel hCav3.1 over hCav3.3, and more than one hundred fold selectivity over hCav3.2. Using chimeras of hCav3.1 and hCav3.3, we determined that the domain IV region of hCav3.1 is a major determinant of toxin affinity, with a minor contribution from domain II. Further analysis revealed several residues in a highly conserved region between Ttype and sodium channels that may correspond to toxin binding sites. Mutagenesis of several of these residues on an individual basis, however, did not alter the blocking effects of the toxin. ProTx II on the other hand preferentially blocked hCav3.2 and significantly shifted the steady state inactivation of this channel. Conclusions ProTx I blocks hCav3.1 both selectively and with high affinity. Domain IV appears to play a major role in this selectivity with some contribution from domain II. Given the structural similarities between sodium and T-type calcium channels and the apparent conservation in toxin binding sites, these data could provide insights into the development and synthesis of novel T-type channel antagonists.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular Brain
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2014. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Calcium channels
  • ProTx I
  • ProTx II
  • T-type blockers
  • Electrophysiology


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