The Kv1.3 channel has become a therapeutic target for the treatment of various diseases. Several Kv1.3 channel blockers have been characterized from scorpion venom; however, extensive studies require amounts of toxin that cannot be readily obtained directly from venoms. The Pichia pastoris expression system provides a cost-effective approach to overcoming the limitations of chemical synthesis and E. coli recombinant expression. In this work, we developed an efficient system for the production of three potent Kv1.3 channel blockers from different scorpion venoms: Vm24, AnTx, and Ts6. Using the Pichia system, these toxins could be obtained in sufficient quantities (Vm24 1.6 mg/L, AnTx 46 mg/L, and Ts6 7.5 mg/L) to characterize their biological activity. A comparison was made between the activity of tagged and untagged recombinant peptides. Tagged Vm24 and untagged AnTx are nearly equivalent to native toxins in blocking Kv1.3 (Kd = 4.4 pM and Kd = 0.72 nM, respectively), whereas untagged Ts6 exhibits a 53-fold increase in Kd (Kd = 29.1 nM) as compared to the native peptide. The approach described here provides a method that can be optimized for toxin production to develop more selective and effective Kv1.3 blockers with therapeutic potential.
Keywords: Kv1.3 blockers; Pichia pastoris; recombinant peptides; scorpion venoms.