, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 29-35
Date: 08 Nov 2003

Action of nereistoxin on recombinant neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes

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Nereistoxin (NTX), a natural neurotoxin from the salivary glands of the marine annelid worm Lumbriconereis heteropoda, is highly toxic to insects. Its synthetic analogue, Cartap, was the first commercial insecticide based on a natural product. We have used voltage-clamp electrophysiology to compare the actions of NTX on recombinant nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nicotinic AChRs) expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes following nuclear injection of cDNAs. The recombinant nicotinic AChRs investigated were chicken α7, chicken α4β2 and the Drosophila melanogaster/chicken hybrid receptors SAD/β2 and ALS/β2. No agonist action of NTX (0.1–100 μM) was observed on chicken α7, chicken α4β2 and the Drosophila/chicken hybrid nicotinic AChRs. Currents elicited by ACh were reduced in amplitude by NTX in a dose-dependent manner. The toxin was slightly more potent on recombinant Drosophila/vertebrate hybrid receptors than on vertebrate homomeric (α7) or heteromeric (α4β2) nicotinic AChRs. Block by NTX of the chicken α7, chicken α4β2 and the SAD/β2 and ALS/β2 Drosophila/chicken hybrid receptors is in all cases non-competitive. Thus, the site of action on nicotinic AChRs of NTX, to which the insecticide Cartap is metabolised in insects, differs from that of the major nicotinic AChR-active insecticide, imidacloprid.