Mechanism of Action and Structure-Activity Relationship of α-Conotoxin Mr1.1 at the Human α9α10 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor

J Med Chem. 2022 Sep 22. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.2c00494. Online ahead of print.


α-Conotoxins (α-CTxs) can selectively target nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) and are important drug leads for the treatment of cancer, chronic pain, and neuralgia. Here, we chemically synthesized a formerly defined rat α7 nAChR targeting α-CTx Mr1.1 and evaluated its activity at human nAChRs. Mr1.1 was most potent at the human (h) α9α10 nAChR with a half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) of 92.0 nM. Molecular dynamic simulations suggested that Mr1.1 favorably binds at the α10(+)α9(-) and α9(+)α9(-) sites via hydrogen bonds and salt bridges, stabilizing the channel in a closed conformation. Although Mr1.1 and another antagonist, α-CTx Vc1.1 share high sequence similarity and disulfide-bond framework, Mr1.1 has distinct orientations at hα9α10. Based on the Mr1.1-hα9α10 model, analogues were generated, and the more potent Mr1.1[S4Dap], antagonized hα9α10 with an IC50 of 4.0 nM. Furthermore, Mr1.1[S4Dap] displayed analgesic activity in the rat chronic constriction injury (CCI) pain model and therefore presents a promising drug candidate.