Conotoxins and the posttranslational modification of secreted gene products
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The venoms of predatory cone snails (genus Conus) have yielded a complex library of about 50–100,000 bioactive peptides, each believed to have a specific physiological target (although peptides from different species may overlap in their target specificity). Conus has evolved the equivalent of a drug development strategy that combines the accelerated evolution of toxin sequences with an unprecedented degree of posttranslational modification. Some Conus venom peptide families are the most highly posttranslationally modified classes of gene products known. We review the variety and complexity of posttranslational modifications documented in Conus peptides so far, and explore the potential of Conus venom peptides as a model system for a more general understanding of which secreted gene products may have modified amino acids. Although the database of modified conotoxins is growing rapidly, there are far more questions raised than answers provided about possible mechanisms and functions of posttranslational modifications in Conus.
Key words.Posttranslational modification conotoxin D-amino acids 6-bromotryptophan O-glycosylation
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