Saxitoxin, a toxic marine natural product that targets a multitude of receptors

Nat Prod Rep. 2006 Apr;23(2):200-22. doi: 10.1039/b501296c. Epub 2006 Feb 23.


Saxitoxin (STX) was discovered early last century and can contaminate seafood and drinking water, and over time has become an invaluable research tool and an internationally regulated chemical weapon. Among natural products, toxins obtain a unique reputation from their high affinity and selectivity for their target pharmacological receptor, which for STX has long been considered to only be the voltage gated sodium channel. In recent times however, STX has been discovered to also bind to calcium and potassium channels, neuronal nitric oxide synthase, STX metabolizing enzymes and two circulatory fluid proteins, namely a transferrin-like family of proteins and a unique protein found in the blood of pufferfish.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Biological Products* / chemistry
  • Biological Products* / isolation & purification
  • Biological Products* / pharmacology
  • Chemical Warfare Agents
  • Fishes
  • Food Contamination
  • Ion Channels / drug effects
  • Marine Toxins* / chemistry
  • Marine Toxins* / isolation & purification
  • Marine Toxins* / pharmacology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Molecular Structure
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / drug effects*
  • Saxitoxin* / chemistry
  • Saxitoxin* / isolation & purification
  • Saxitoxin* / pharmacology


  • Biological Products
  • Chemical Warfare Agents
  • Ion Channels
  • Marine Toxins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Saxitoxin