A Cell-Penetrating Scorpion Toxin Enables Mode-Specific Modulation of TRPA1 and Pain.

Journal: Cell

Published: 2019-08-19

DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.07.014

Affiliations: 5

Authors: 7

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Research Highlight

Scorpion toxin targets ‘wasabi receptor’

© DigiPub/Getty

© DigiPub/Getty

The discovery of a scorpion toxin that elicits pain in a similar — but distinct — fashion to wasabi and other pungent foods could help scientists discover novel pain-relieving medicines.

A team that included researchers from the University of Queensland isolated a small peptide from the venom of the Australian black rock scorpion. They named the molecule wasabi receptor toxin, or WaTx, since it triggers the same chemical-sensing protein as the horseradish plant. However, unlike other activators of this receptor, WaTx binds to its target in a way that does not produce inflammatory signals.

WaTx now offers an experimental tool for studying acute-pain responses without the confounding effects of inflammation.

The findings also highlight how distantly related life forms — in this case, plants and animals — can evolve defensive strategies that target the same receptor, albeit through different mechanisms.

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  1. Cell 178, 1362–1374 (2019). doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.07.014
Institutions Share
University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), United States of America (USA) 0.71
The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia 0.29