A Transcriptomic Survey of Ion Channel-Based Conotoxins in the Chinese Tubular Cone Snail (Conus betulinus)

Mar Drugs. 2017 Jul 18;15(7):228. doi: 10.3390/md15070228.


Conotoxins in the venom of cone snails (Conus spp.) are a mixture of active peptides that work as blockers, agonists, antagonists, or inactivators of various ion channels. Recently we reported a high-throughput method to identify 215 conotoxin transcripts from the Chinese tubular cone snail, C. betulinus. Here, based on the previous datasets of four transcriptomes from three venom ducts and one venom bulb, we explored ion channel-based conotoxins and predicted their related ion channel receptors. Homologous analysis was also performed for the most abundant ion channel protein, voltage-gated potassium (Kv; with Kv1.1 as the representative), and the most studied ion channel receptor, nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR; with α2-nAChR as the representative), in different animals. Our transcriptomic survey demonstrated that ion channel-based conotoxins and related ion channel proteins/receptors transcribe differentially between the venom duct and the venom bulb. In addition, we observed that putative κ-conotoxins were the most common conotoxins with the highest transcription levels in the examined C. betulinus. Furthermore, Kv1.1 and α2-nAChR were conserved in their functional domains of deduced protein sequences, suggesting similar effects of conotoxins via the ion channels in various species, including human beings. In a word, our present work suggests a high-throughput way to develop conotoxins as potential drugs for treatment of ion channel-associated human diseases.

Keywords: Chinese tubular cone snail; conotoxin; ion channel receptor; transcriptome.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Conotoxins / genetics*
  • Conus Snail / genetics*
  • Ion Channels / genetics*
  • Peptides / genetics
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / genetics
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Transcriptome / genetics*
  • Venoms / genetics


  • Conotoxins
  • Ion Channels
  • Peptides
  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • Venoms