Isolation, synthesis and pharmacological characterization of delta-palutoxins IT, novel insecticidal toxins from the spider Paracoelotes luctuosus (Amaurobiidae)

Eur J Biochem. 2000 Sep;267(18):5783-95. doi: 10.1046/j.1432-1327.2000.01653.x.


Four novel insecticidal toxins were isolated from the venom of the spider Paracoelotes luctuosus (Araneae: Amaurobiidae) and named delta-palutoxins IT1 to IT4. The four toxins are homologous 36-37 amino acid peptides reticulated by four disulfide bridges and three have amidated C-terminal residues. The delta-palutoxins are highly homologous with the previously described mu-agatoxins and curtatoxins (77-97%). The four peptides demonstrated significant toxicity against larvae of the crop pest Spodoptera litura (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) in a microinjection bioassay, with LD50 values in the 9-50 microg per g of insect range. This level of toxicity is equivalent to that of several of the most active scorpion toxins used in the development of recombinant baculoviruses, and the delta-palutoxins appear to be insect specific. Electrophysiological experiments demonstrated that delta-palutoxin IT1, the most active toxin acts by affecting insect sodium channel inactivation, resulting in the appearance of a late-maintained sodium current, in a similar fashion to insecticidal scorpion alpha and alpha-like toxins and is thus likely to bind to channel receptor site 3. However, delta-palutoxin IT1 was distinguished by its lack of effect on peak sodium conductance, on the early phase of sodium current inactivation and the absence of a shift in the activation voltage of the sodium channels. delta-Palutoxins are thus proposed as new insecticidal toxins related to the alpha and alpha-like scorpion toxins. They will be useful both in the development of recombinant baculoviruses in agrochemical applications and also as molecular probes for the investigation of molecular mechanisms of insect selectivity and structure and function of sodium channels.

MeSH terms

  • Agatoxins
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Axons / drug effects
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Circular Dichroism
  • Cockroaches
  • Disulfides
  • Electrophoresis, Capillary
  • Electrophysiology
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neuropeptides / chemistry
  • Peptides / chemical synthesis
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Potassium Channels / drug effects
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Scorpion Venoms / chemistry
  • Scorpion Venoms / pharmacology
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Sodium Channels / drug effects
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization
  • Spider Venoms / chemical synthesis*
  • Spider Venoms / chemistry
  • Spider Venoms / isolation & purification
  • Spider Venoms / pharmacology
  • Spiders / chemistry*
  • Spodoptera / drug effects
  • Spodoptera / metabolism


  • Agatoxins
  • Disulfides
  • Neuropeptides
  • Peptides
  • Potassium Channels
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Scorpion Venoms
  • Sodium Channels
  • Spider Venoms
  • Mu-agatoxin-Aa1a