Conus regius-Derived Conotoxins: Novel Therapeutic Opportunities from a Marine Organism

Mar Drugs. 2022 Dec 10;20(12):773. doi: 10.3390/md20120773.


Conus regius is a marine venomous mollusk of the Conus genus that captures its prey by injecting a rich cocktail of bioactive disulfide bond rich peptides called conotoxins. These peptides selectively target a broad range of ion channels, membrane receptors, transporters, and enzymes, making them valuable pharmacological tools and potential drug leads. C. regius-derived conotoxins are particularly attractive due to their marked potency and selectivity against specific nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subtypes, whose signalling is involved in pain, cognitive disorders, drug addiction, and cancer. However, the species-specific differences in sensitivity and the low stability and bioavailability of these conotoxins limit their clinical development as novel therapeutic agents for these disorders. Here, we give an overview of the main pharmacological features of the C. regius-derived conotoxins described so far, focusing on the molecular mechanisms underlying their potential therapeutic effects. Additionally, we describe adoptable chemical engineering solutions to improve their pharmacological properties for future potential clinical translation.

Keywords: M-conotoxins; RegIIA; RgIA; RgIA analogues; RgIB; alpha-conotoxins; alpha9alpha10 nAChRs; nAChRs; neuropathic pain; pain.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aquatic Organisms
  • Conotoxins* / chemistry
  • Conotoxins* / pharmacology
  • Conus Snail* / chemistry
  • Nicotinic Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Peptides / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Nicotinic*


  • Conotoxins
  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • Peptides
  • Nicotinic Antagonists