Conotoxins targeting nicotinic acetylcholine receptors: an overview

Mar Drugs. 2014 May 22;12(5):2970-3004. doi: 10.3390/md12052970.


Marine snails of the genus Conus are a large family of predatory gastropods with an unparalleled molecular diversity of pharmacologically active compounds in their venom. Cone snail venom comprises of a rich and diverse cocktail of peptide toxins which act on a wide variety of ion channels such as voltage-gated sodium- (NaV), potassium- (KV), and calcium- (CaV) channels as well as nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) which are classified as ligand-gated ion channels. The mode of action of several conotoxins has been the subject of investigation, while for many others this remains unknown. This review aims to give an overview of the knowledge we have today on the molecular pharmacology of conotoxins specifically interacting with nAChRs along with the structure-function relationship data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / pharmacology*
  • Conotoxins / chemistry
  • Conotoxins / genetics
  • Conotoxins / pharmacology*
  • Conus Snail / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / drug effects*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Conotoxins
  • Receptors, Nicotinic