Cloning, overexpression, and characterization of cobrotoxin

by Hsieh, H. C.; Kumar, T. K. S.; Yu, C.

Cobrotoxin (CBTX) is a highly toxic short neurotoxin, isolated from the Taiwan cobra (Naja naja atra) venom. In the present study for the first time we report the cloning and expression of CBTX in high yields (12 mg/L) in Escherichia coli. CBTX fused to the IgG-binding domain of protein A (IgG-CBTX) was expressed in the soluble form. The misfolded CBTX portion (of the overexpressed fusion protein) was refolded under optimal redox conditions. The fusion protein (IgG-CBTX) was observed to undergo autocatalytic cleavage to yield CBTX with additional 5 amino acids upstream of its N-terminal end. The far UV and near UV circular dichroism spectra of the recombinant CBTX were identical to those of the toxin isolated from the crude venom source. Recombinant CBTX was isotope labeled (N-15 and C-13) and all the resonances (H-1, C-13, and N-15) in the protein have been unambiguously assigned. H-1-N-15 HSQC spectrum of recombinant CBTX revealed that the protein is in a biologically active conformation. H-1-N-15 chemical shift perturbation data showed that recombinant CBTX binds to a peptide derived from the alpha7 subunit of the Torpedo acetylcholine receptor (AchR) with high affinity. The AchR peptide is found to bind to residues located at the tip of Loop-2 in CBTX. The results of the present study provide an avenue to understand the structural basis for the high toxicity exhibited by CBTX. In addition, complete resonance assignments in CBTX (reported in this study) are expected to trigger intensive research towards the design of new pharmacological agents against certain neural disorders.

Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Start Page
1090-2104; 0006-291X