For a long time Asian scorpion Buthus martensi Karsch (BmK) has been used in Chinese traditional medicine to cure many diseases of nervous system. Here we report the purification and characterization of a pharmacologically active neurotoxin from the scorpion BmK. This toxin had little toxicity in mice and insects but was found to have an anti-epilepsy effect in rats, and is thus named as BmK anti-epilepsy peptide (BmK AEP). Its amino-acid sequence was determined by lysylendopeptidase digestion, Edman degradation and mass spectrographic analysis. Based on the determined sequence, the gene coding for this peptide was also cloned and sequenced by the 3′ and 5′ RACE methods. It encodes a precursor of 85 amino-acid residues including a signal peptide of 21 residues, a mature peptide of 61 residues and three additional residues Gly-Lys-Lys at the C-terminus. The additional Gly sometimes followed by one or two basic residues is prerequisite for the amidation of its C-terminus. C-terminal amidation was also verified by the molecular-mass determination of BmK AEP. This anti-epilepsy peptide toxin shares homology with other depressant insect toxins. The remarkable difference between them was mainly focused at residues 6, 7 and 39; these residues might relate to the unique action of BmK AEP.
- Scorpion neurotoxin
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