Human voltage-gated sodium (hNaV) channels are responsible for initiating and propagating action potentials in excitable cells, and mutations have been associated with numerous cardiac and neurological disorders. hNaV1.7 channels are expressed in peripheral neurons and are promising targets for pain therapy. The tarantula venom peptide protoxin-II (PTx2) has high selectivity for hNaV1.7 and is a valuable scaffold for designing novel therapeutics to treat pain. Here, we used computational modeling to study the molecular mechanisms of the state-dependent binding of PTx2 to hNaV1.7 voltage-sensing domains (VSDs). Using Rosetta structural modeling methods, we constructed atomistic models of the hNaV1.7 VSD II and IV in the activated and deactivated states with docked PTx2. We then performed microsecond-long all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of the systems in hydrated lipid bilayers. Our simulations revealed that PTx2 binds most favorably to the deactivated VSD II and activated VSD IV. These state-specific interactions are mediated primarily by PTx2’s residues R22, K26, K27, K28, and W30 with VSD and the surrounding membrane lipids. Our work revealed important protein–protein and protein–lipid contacts that contribute to high-affinity state-dependent toxin interaction with the channel. The workflow presented will prove useful for designing novel peptides with improved selectivity and potency for more effective and safe treatment of pain.

This article is distributed under the terms of an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike–No Mirror Sites license for the first six months after the publication date (see http://www.rupress.org/terms/). After six months it is available under a Creative Commons License (Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 4.0 International license, as described at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/).
You do not currently have access to this content.