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Defensins, a novel type of animal toxin-like potassium channel inhibitor

Zhao, Yonghui, Chen, Zongyun, Cao, Zhijian, Li, Wenxin, Wu, Yingliang
Toxicon 2019 v.157 pp. 101-105
fungi, humans, invertebrates, peptides, potassium channels
The classical potassium channel inhibitors are toxin peptides from venomous animals, and whether there are peptide inhibitors from other species is an open question. Due to both the independent and interdependent relationships between the spear (peptide inhibitors) and the shield (potassium channels), human defensins were first identified by our group as endogenous potassium channel inhibitors. Encouraged by the discovery of human defensins as potassium channel inhibitors, defensins from invertebrates and fungi were successively found by our group to be potassium channel inhibitors. In addition, a plant defensin was reported to be a potassium channel inhibitor. Since defensins are widely produced by vertebrate, invertebrate, plant and fungi species, the recent work established a new research field on defensin-potassium channel interactions. Here, we review the current work on defensins from vertebrate, invertebrate, plant and fungi species as inhibitors of potassium channels and discuss future work in this research field.