The cloning and characterization of a three-finger toxin homolog (NXH8) from the Coralsnake Micrurus corallinus that interacts with skeletal muscle nicotinic acetylcholine receptors

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Coralsnakes (Micrurus spp.) are the only elapids found throughout the Americas. They are recognized for their highly neurotoxic venom, which is comprised of a wide variety of toxins, including the stable, low-mass toxins known as three-finger toxins (3FTx). Due to difficulties in venom extraction and availability, research on coralsnake venoms is still very limited when compared to that of other Elapidae snakes like cobras, kraits, and mambas. In this study, two previously described 3FTx from the venom of M. corallinus, NXH1 (3SOC1_MICCO), and NXH8 (3NO48_MICCO) were characterized. Using in silico, in vitro, and ex vivo experiments, the biological activities of these toxins were predicted and evaluated. The results showed that only NXH8 was capable of binding to skeletal muscle cells and modulating the activity of nAChRs in nerve–diaphragm preparations. These effects were antagonized by anti-rNXH8 or antielapidic sera. Sequence analysis revealed that the NXH1 toxin possesses eight cysteine residues and four disulfide bonds, while the NXH8 toxin has a primary structure similar to that of non-conventional 3FTx, with an additional disulfide bond on the first loop. These findings add more information related to the structural diversity present within the 3FTx class, while expanding our understanding of the mechanisms of the toxicity of this coralsnake venom and opening new perspectives for developing more effective therapeutic interventions.
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