Toxins that are secreted by cone snails are small peptides that are used to treat several diseases. However, their effects on parasites with human and veterinary significance are unknown. Toxoplasma gondii is an opportunistic parasite that affects approximately 30% of the world's population and can be lethal in immunologically compromised individuals. The conventional treatment for this parasitic infection has remained the same since the 1950s, and its efficacy is limited to the acute phase of infection. These findings have necessitated the search for new drugs that specifically target T. gondii. We examined the effects of the synthetic toxin cal14.1a (s-cal14.1a) from C. californicus on the tachyzoite form of T. gondii. Our results indicate that, at micromolar concentrations, s-cal14.1a lowers viability and inhibits host cell invasion (by 50% and 61%, respectively) on exposure to extracellular parasites. Further, intracellular replication decreased significantly while viability of the host cell was unaffected. Our study is the first report on the antiparasitic activity of a synthetic toxin of C. californicus.
Keywords: Conus californicus; Toxoplasma gondii; antiparasitic toxin; conotoxin; host-cell invasion; parasite replication.