The medical staff is often powerless to treat patients affected by drug abuse or misuse and poisoning. In the case of envenomation, the treatment of choice remains horse sera administration that poses a wealth of other medical conditions and threats. Previously, we have demonstrated that DNA-based aptamers represent powerful neutralizing tools for lethal animal toxins of venomous origin. Herein, we further pursued our investigations in order to understand whether all toxin-interacting aptamers possessed equivalent potencies to neutralize αC-conotoxin PrXA in vitro and in vivo. We confirmed the high lethality in mice produced by αC-conotoxin PrXA regardless of the mode of injection and further characterized myoclonus produced by the toxin. We used high-throughput patch-clamp technology to assess the effect of αC-conotoxin PrXA on ACh-mediated responses in TE671 cells, responses that are carried by muscle-type nicotinic receptors. We show that 2 out of 4 aptamers reduce the affinity of the toxin for its receptor, most likely by interfering with the pharmacophore. In vivo, more complex responses on myoclonus and mice lethality are observed depending on the type of aptamer and mode of administration (concomitant or differed). Concomitant administration always works better than differed administration indicating the stability of the complex in vivo. The most remarkable conclusion is that an aptamer that has no or a limited efficacy in vitro may nevertheless be functional in vivo probably owing to an impact on the biodistribution or pharmacokinetics of the toxin in vivo. Overall, the results highlight that a blind selection of aptamers against toxins leads to efficient neutralizing compounds in vivo regardless of the mode of action. This opens the door to the use of aptamer mixtures as substitutes to horse sera for the neutralization of life-threatening animal venoms, an important WHO concern in tropical areas.
Keywords: DNA aptamer; cone peptide; oligonucleotide; toxin neutralization; venom; αC-conotoxin PrXA.