Effect of maurotoxin, a four disulfide-bridged toxin from the chactoid scorpion Scorpio maurus, on Shaker K+ channels

J Pept Res. 2000 Jun;55(6):419-27. doi: 10.1034/j.1399-3011.2000.00715.x.


Maurotoxin is a 34-residue toxin isolated from the venom of the Tunisian chactoid scorpion Scorpio maurus palmatus and contains four disulfide bridges that are normally found in long-chain toxins of 60-70 amino acid residues, which affect voltage-gated sodium channels. However, despite the unconventional disulfide-bridge pattern of maurotoxin, the conformation of this toxin remains similar to that of other toxins acting on potassium channels. Here, we analyzed the effects of synthetic maurotoxin on voltage-gated Shaker potassium channels (ShB) expressed in Xenopus oocytes. Maurotoxin produces a strong, but reversible, inhibition of the ShB K+ current with an IC50 of 2 nM. Increasing concentrations of the toxin induce a progressively higher block at saturating concentrations. At nonsaturating concentrations of the toxin (5-20 nM), the channel block appears slightly more pronounced at threshold potentials suggesting that the toxin may have a higher affinity for the closed state of the channel. At the single channel level, the toxin does not modify the unitary current amplitude, but decreases ensemble currents by increasing the number of depolarizing epochs that failed to elicit any opening. A point mutation of Lys23 to alanine in maurotoxin produces a 1000-fold reduction in the IC50 of block by the toxin suggesting the importance of this charged residue for the interaction with the channel. Maurotoxin does not affect K+ currents carried by Kir2.3 channels in oocytes or Na+ currents carried by the alphaIIa channel expressed in CHO cells.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • CHO Cells
  • Cricetinae
  • Disulfides
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Gene Expression
  • Microinjections
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oocytes
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Potassium Channel Blockers*
  • Potassium Channels / metabolism*
  • Protein Conformation
  • RNA, Complementary / metabolism
  • Scorpion Venoms / chemistry
  • Scorpion Venoms / metabolism
  • Scorpion Venoms / pharmacology*
  • Shaker Superfamily of Potassium Channels
  • Sodium Channels / metabolism
  • Xenopus laevis


  • Disulfides
  • Potassium Channel Blockers
  • Potassium Channels
  • RNA, Complementary
  • Scorpion Venoms
  • Shaker Superfamily of Potassium Channels
  • Sodium Channels
  • maurotoxin