A Buthus martensii Karsch scorpion sting targets Nav1.7 in mice and mimics a phenotype of human chronic pain : PAIN

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A Buthus martensii Karsch scorpion sting targets Nav1.7 in mice and mimics a phenotype of human chronic pain

Lu, Wuguanga,b,d; Cheng, Xiaoyangc,i; Chen, Jiaoa,b; Wang, Mingyuana,b; Chen, Yonggena,b; Liu, Jinmana,b; Sang, Minga,b; Zhao, Ningweie; Yan, Huaijianga,b; Cheng, Xiaolana,b; Zhou, Qiana,b; Ye, Juana,b; Wang, Jind; Xu, Erjina,b; Tang, Zongxiangf; Zhou, Xig; Rong, Mingqiangg; Nilsen, Erik A.h; Dib-Hajj, Sulayman D.c,i; Waxman, Stephen G.c,i; Yu, Yed; Cao, Penga,b,j,*

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PAIN 163(2):p e202-e214, February 2022. | DOI: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000002397

Gain-of-function and loss-of-function mutations in Nav1.7 cause chronic pain and pain insensitivity, respectively. The preferential expression of Nav1.7 in the peripheral nervous system and its role in human pain signaling make Nav1.7 a promising target for next-generation pain therapeutics. However, pharmacological agents have not fully recapitulated these pain phenotypes, and because of the lack of subtype-selective molecular modulators, the role of Nav1.7 in the perception of pain remains poorly understood. Scorpion venom is an excellent source of bioactive peptides that modulate various ion channels, including voltage-gated sodium (Nav) channels. Here, we demonstrate that Buthus martensii Karsch scorpion venom (BV) elicits pain responses in mice through direct enhancement of Nav1.7 activity and have identified Makatoxin-3, an α-like toxin, as a critical component for BV-mediated effects on Nav1.7. Blocking other Nav subtypes did not eliminate BV-evoked pain responses, supporting the pivotal role of Nav1.7 in BV-induced pain. Makatoxin-3 acts on the S3–S4 loop of voltage sensor domain IV (VSD4) of Nav1.7, which causes a hyperpolarizing shift in the steady-state fast inactivation and impairs inactivation kinetics. We also determined the key residues and structure–function relationships for the toxin–channel interactions, which are distinct from those of other well-studied α toxins. This study not only reveals a new mechanism underlying BV-evoked pain but also enriches our knowledge of key structural elements of scorpion toxins that are pivotal for toxin–Nav1.7 interactions, which facilitates the design of novel Nav1.7 selective modulators.

© 2021 International Association for the Study of Pain

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