Chiriquitoxin, a New Tool for Mapping Ionic Channels

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Chiriquitoxin is a new natural analog of tetrodotoxin in which the —CH2OH group on C6 has been replaced with a yet unidentified group consisting of 104 mass units. It is unique in being the only known stable analog to be equally potent as tetrodotoxin in blocking the sodium channel. It additionally interferes with the delayed rectifier (potassium) channel. In frog skeletal muscle, it significantly reduced the outward current while abolishing the inward current. It also slows the fast repolarization of the action potential and obliterates the voltage response characteristic of delayed rectification to large outward currents. It completes the tetrodotoxin for the same membrane binding site, thereby suggesting that the same molecule interferes with both the sodium and the potassium channels. A new working hypothesis is proposed in which tetrodotoxin and chiriquitoxin are postulated to bind to a membrane receptor located in the outside surface of the muscle fiber membrane. From the structure of tetrodotoxin and a presumed structure of chiriquitoxin, the Na+ and K+ channels have been estimated to be separated from each other by not less than 5 Å nor much more than 15 Å.

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