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Conantokins: Peptide Antagonists of NMDA Receptors

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Abstract:

Conantokins are small peptides (17-27 amino acids) found in the venoms of cone snails (Conus sp.) that inhibit the activity of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. Unlike most of the peptides characterized from cone snail venom that contain multiple disulfide bridges, conantokins are linear peptides that possess a high degree of alpha-helicity in the presence of divalent cations, and contain gamma-carboxyglutamic acid residues. Four naturally occurring conantokins have been identified and characterized to date, conantokin-G, conantokin-T, conantokin-R, and conantokin-L. The most extensively characterized, conantokin-G, is selective for subtypes of NMDA receptors containing the NR2B subunit. The conantokins have been synthesized and characterized in a number of animal models of human pathologies including pain, convulsive disorders, stroke, and Parkinson's disease. The potential pharmacological selectivity of the conantokins, coupled with their efficacy in preclinical models of disease and favorable safety profiles indicate that these peptides represent both novel probes for NMDA receptor function as well as an important class of compounds for continued investigation as human therapeutics.

Keywords: analgesic; anticonvulsant; conantokin; cone snail; conotoxin; n-methyl-d-aspartate; neuroprotection; venom

Document Type: Review Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2174/0929867043363901

Affiliations: Cognetix, Inc. 421 Wakara Way, Suite 201, Salt Lake City, UT 84108 USA.

Publication date: December 1, 2004

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.

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