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Ion channel modulation by scorpion hemolymph and its defensin ingredients highlights origin of neurotoxins in telson formed in Paleozoic scorpions

Meng, Lanxia, Zhao, Yonghui, Qu, Daliang, Xie, Zili, Guo, Xingchen, Zhu, Zhanyong, Chen, Zongyun, Zhang, Longhua, Li, Wenxin, Cao, Zhijian, Tian, Changlin, Wu, Yingliang
International journal of biological macromolecules 2020 v.148 pp. 351-363
Buthus martensii, Paleozoic era, fossils, hemolymph, ingredients, neurotoxins, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, potassium channels, venoms
An increasing number of scorpion fossils indicate that the venomous telson developed from the sharp telson in sea scorpions into the extant scorpion-like telson in aquatic scorpions in the Paleozoic Era and then further evolved into the fetal venom system. This hypothesis led us to evaluate the inhibition of scorpion venom-sensitive potassium channels by hemolymph from the scorpion Mesobuthus martensii. Scorpion hemolymph diluted 1:10 inhibited Kv1.1, Kv1.2, Kv1.3 and SK3 potassium channel currents by 76.4%, 90.2%, 85.8%, and 52.8%, respectively. These discoveries encouraged us to investigate the functional similarity between the more ancient defensin ingredients in hemolymph and the evolved neurotoxins in the venom. In addition to the expression of the representative defensin BmKDfsin3 and BmKDfsin5 in both venomous and non-venomous tissues, NMR analysis revealed structural similarities between scorpion defensin and neurotoxin. Functional experiments further indicated that scorpion defensin used the same mechanism as classical neurotoxin to block the neurotoxin-sensitive Kv1.1, Kv1.2, Kv1.3 and SK3 channels. These findings emphasize the likelihood that scorpion defensins evolved into neurotoxins that were adapted to the emergence of the scorpion telson from the sharp telson of sea scorpions into the extant scorpion-like telson in aquatic scorpions in the Paleozoic Era.