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
UCSF Department of Physiology, United States of America (USA) 0.29
UCSF Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, United States of America (USA) 0.29
Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), UQ, Australia 0.29
UCSF School of Dentistry, United States of America (USA) 0.07
UCSF Neuroscience Graduate Program, United States of America (USA) 0.07