Laboratory of Molecular Instruments for Neurobiology

Who are we?

The laboratory was formed in 2017 from a preexisting group that was officially organized in 2014 under the "Molecular and Cell Biology" Program of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences, concomitantly with the Department of Molecular Neurobiology (de facto the group was active since 2008). We are a young and ambitious team and we are always open for new members. Graduate and PhD students are most welcome!

What are we doing?

  1. Study of under-investigated natural venoms and poisons from jelly fish, centipedes, certain spiders, leaf beetles, sea urchins, and stingrays.
  2. Design and production of molecular instruments for neuroscience.
  3. Production of diagnostic tools and search for drug hits.


Our international partners:

Toxicology and Pharmacology, KU Leuven (Belgium). Head, Professor Jan Tytgat.

Experimental Anesthesiology and Pain Research, University Hospital of Cologne (Germany). Head, Professor Tim Hucho.

Maduke Lab, Stanford University (USA). Head, Professor Merritt Maduke.

Kullmann Lab, Institute of Neurology, University College London (UK). Head, Professor Dimitri Kullmann.

Alexander Vassilevski, Ph.D.depart.
Petr Oparin, Ph.D.r.
Alexey Kuzmenkov, Ph.D.r.
Antonina Berkutj. r.
Maria Sachkova, Ph.D.j. r.
Anton KommerPhD
Tat'yana Kotovat. q. - lab. as.
Daniil Lukyanovt. q. - lab. as.
Andrey Gigolaevres.
Ivan Chudetskijres.
Zhanna Kanaevskayalab.

Selected publications

  1. Kuzmenkov AI, Nekrasova OV, Peigneur S, Tabakmakher VM, Gigolaev AM, Fradkov AF, Kudryashova KS, Chugunov AO, Efremov RG, Tytgat J, Feofanov AV, Vassilevski AA (2018). K1.2 channel-specific blocker from Mesobuthus eupeus scorpion venom: Structural basis of selectivity. Neuropharmacology 143 (0), 228–238
  2. Twomey EC, Yelshanskaya MV, Vassilevski AA, Sobolevsky AI (2018). Mechanisms of Channel Block in Calcium-Permeable AMPA Receptors. Neuron 99 (5), 956–968.e4
  3. Kuldyushev NA, Mineev KS, Berkut AA, Peigneur S, Arseniev AS, Tytgat J, Grishin EV, Vassilevski AA (2018). Refined structure of BeM9 reveals arginine hand, an overlooked structural motif in scorpion toxins affecting sodium channels. Proteins  (0),
  4. Jiang ZK, Tuo L, Huang DL, Osterman IA, Tyurin AP, Liu SW, Lukyanov DA, Sergiev PV, Dontsova OA, Korshun VA, Li FN, Sun CH (2018). Diversity, novelty, and antimicrobial activity of endophytic actinobacteria from mangrove plants in Beilun Estuary National Nature Reserve of Guangxi, China. Front Microbiol 9 (0), 868
  5. Männikkö R, Shenkarev ZO, Thor MG, Berkut AA, Myshkin MY, Paramonov AS, Kulbatskii DS, Kuzmin DA, Castañeda MS, King L, Wilson ER, Lyukmanova EN, Kirpichnikov MP, Schorge S, Bosmans F, Hanna MG, Kullmann DM, Vassilevski AA (2018). Spider toxin inhibits gating pore currents underlying periodic paralysis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 115 (17), 4495–4500
  6. Andreev-Andrievskiy A, Popova A, Lagereva E, Osipov D, Berkut A, Grishin E, Vassilevski A (2017). Pharmacological analysis of Poecilotheria spider venoms in mice provides clues for human treatment. Toxicon 138 (0), 59–67
  7. Kuzmenkov AI, Vassilevski AA (2017). Labelled animal toxins as selective molecular markers of ion channels: Applications in neurobiology and beyond. Neurosci Lett 679 (0), 15–23
  8. Kuldyushev NA, Berkut AA, Peigneur S, Tytgat J, Grishin EV, Vassilevski AA (2017). Design of sodium channel ligands with defined selectivity – a case study in scorpion alpha-toxins. FEBS Lett 591 (20), 3414–3420
  9. Kuzmenkov AI, Peigneur S, Chugunov AO, Tabakmakher VM, Efremov RG, Tytgat J, Grishin EV, Vassilevski AA (2017). C-Terminal residues in small potassium channel blockers OdK1 and OSK3 from scorpion venom fine-tune the selectivity. BIOCHIM BIOPHYS ACTA 1865 (5), 465–472
  10. Nadezhdin KD, Romanovskaia DD, Sachkova MY, Oparin PB, Kovalchuk SI, Grishin EV, Arseniev AS, Vassilevski AA (2017). Modular toxin from the lynx spider Oxyopes takobius: Structure of spiderine domains in solution and membrane-mimicking environment. Protein Sci 26 (3), 611–616
  11. Kuzmenkov AI, Nekrasova OV, Kudryashova KS, Peigneur S, Tytgat J, Stepanov AV, Kirpichnikov MP, Grishin EV, Feofanov AV, Vassilevski AA (2016). Fluorescent protein-scorpion toxin chimera is a convenient molecular tool for studies of potassium channels. Sci Rep 6 (0), 33314
  12. Kuzmenkov AI, Krylov NA, Chugunov AO, Grishin EV, Vassilevski AA (2016). Kalium: A database of potassium channel toxins from scorpion venom. Database (Oxford) 2016 (0),
  13. Kuzmenkov AI, Sachkova MY, Kovalchuk SI, Grishin EV, Vassilevski AA (2016). Lachesana tarabaevi, an expert in membrane-Active toxins. Biochem J 473 (16), 2495–2506
  14. Oparin PB, Nadezhdin KD, Berkut AA, Arseniev AS, Grishin EV, Vassilevski AA (2016). Structure of purotoxin-2 from Wolf spider: Modular design and membrane-Assisted mode of action in arachnid toxins. Biochem J 473 (19), 3113–3126
  15. Kuzmenkov AI, Grishin EV, Vassilevski AA (2015). Diversity of Potassium Channel Ligands: Focus on Scorpion Toxins. Biochemistry (Mosc) 80 (13), 1764–1799
  16. Dubovskii PV, Vassilevski AA, Kozlov SA, Feofanov AV, Grishin EV, Efremov RG (2015). Latarcins: Versatile spider venom peptides. Cell Mol Life Sci 72 (23), 4501–4522
  17. Kuzmenkov AI, Vassilevski AA, Kudryashova KS, Nekrasova OV, Peigneur S, Tytgat J, Feofanov AV, Kirpichnikov MP, Grishin EV (2015). Variability of potassium channel blockers in Mesobuthus eupeus scorpion venom with focus on Kv1.1: An integrated transcriptomic and proteomic study. J Biol Chem 290 (19), 12195–12209
  18. Berkut AA, Peigneur S, Myshkin MY, Paramonov AS, Lyukmanova EN, Arseniev AS, Grishin EV, Tytgat J, Shenkarev ZO, Vassilevski AA (2015). Structure of membrane-active toxin from crab spider Heriaeus melloteei suggests parallel evolution of sodium channel gating modifiers in Araneomorphae and Mygalomorphae. J Biol Chem 290 (1), 492–504
  19. Berkut AA, Usmanova DR, Peigneur S, Oparin PB, Mineev KS, Odintsova TI, Tytgat J, Arseniev AS, Grishin EV, Vassilevski AA (2014). Structural similarity between defense peptide from wheat and scorpion neurotoxin permits rational functional design. J Biol Chem 289 (20), 14331–14340
  20. Sachkova MY, Slavokhotova AA, Grishin EV, Vassilevski AA (2014). Genes and evolution of two-domain toxins from lynx spider venom. FEBS Lett 588 (5), 740–745
  21. Sachkova MY, Slavokhotova AA, Grishin EV, Vassilevski AA (2014). Structure of the yellow sac spider Cheiracanthium punctorium genes provides clues to evolution of insecticidal two-domain knottin toxins. Insect Mol Biol 23 (4), 527–538
  22. Slavokhotova AA, Rogozhin EA, Musolyamov AK, Andreev YA, Oparin PB, Berkut AA, Vassilevski AA, Egorov TA, Grishin EV, Odintsova TI (2014). Novel antifungal α-hairpinin peptide from Stellaria media seeds: Structure, biosynthesis, gene structure and evolution. Plant Mol Biol 84 (12), 189–202
  23. Slavokhotova AA, Naumann TA, Price NPJ, Rogozhin EA, Andreev YA, Vassilevski AA, Odintsova TI (2014). Novel mode of action of plant defense peptides - hevein-like antimicrobial peptides from wheat inhibit fungal metalloproteases. FEBS J 281 (20), 4754–4764
  24. Pluzhnikov KA, Kozlov SA, Vassilevski AA, Vorontsova OV, Feofanov AV, Grishin EV (2014). Linear antimicrobial peptides from Ectatomma quadridens ant venom. B SOC CHIM BIOL 107 (0), 211–215
  25. Vassilevski AA, Sachkova MY, Ignatova AA, Kozlov SA, Feofanov AV, Grishin EV (2013). Spider toxins comprising disulfide-rich and linear amphipathic domains: A new class of molecules identified in the lynx spider Oxyopes takobius. FEBS J 280 (23), 6247–6261
  26. Чугунов АО, Василевский АА (2013). Эволюционная «гонка вооружений»: нейротоксины против ионных каналов. 11 (0), 42–48
  27. Utkina LL, Andreev YA, Rogozhin EA, Korostyleva TV, Slavokhotova AA, Oparin PB, Vassilevski AA, Grishin EV, Egorov TA, Odintsova TI (2013). Genes encoding 4-Cys antimicrobial peptides in wheat Triticum kiharae Dorof. et Migush.: Multimodular structural organization, instraspecific variability, distribution and role in defence. FEBS J 280 (15), 3594–3608
  28. Chugunov AO, Koromyslova AD, Berkut AA, Peigneur S, Tytgat J, Polyansky AA, Pentkovsky VM, Vassilevski AA, Grishin EV, Efremov RG (2013). Modular organization of α-toxins from scorpion venom mirrors domain structure of their targets, sodium channels. J Biol Chem 288 (26), 19014–19027
  29. Kudryashova KS, Nekrasova OV, Kuzmenkov AI, Vassilevski AA, Ignatova AA, Korolkova YV, Grishin EV, Kirpichnikov MP, Feofanov AV (2013). Fluorescent system based on bacterial expression of hybrid KcsA channels designed for Kv1.3 ligand screening and study. Anal Bioanal Chem 405 (7), 2379–2389
  30. Kuzmenkov AI, Fedorova IM, Vassilevski AA, Grishin EV (2013). Cysteine-rich toxins from Lachesana tarabaevi spider venom with amphiphilic C-terminal segments. BIOCHIM BIOPHYS ACTA 1828 (2), 724–731
  31. Polyansky AA, Chugunov AO, Vassilevski AA, Grishin EV, Efremov RG (2012). Recent advances in computational modeling of α-Helical membrane-active peptides. Curr Protein Pept Sci 13 (7), 644–657
  32. Kabanova NV, Vassilevski AA, Rogachevskaja OA, Bystrova MF, Korolkova YV, Pluzhnikov KA, Romanov RA, Grishin EV, Kolesnikov SS (2012). Modulation of P2X3 receptors by spider toxins. BIOCHIM BIOPHYS ACTA 1818 (11), 2868–2875
  33. Polina NF, Shkarupeta MM, Popenko AS, Vassilevski AA, Kozlov SA, Grishin EV, Lazarev VN, Govorun VM (2012). Cyto-Insectotoxin 1a from Lachesana tarabaevi Spider Venom Inhibits Chlamydia trachomatis Infection. Probiotics Antimicrob Proteins 4 (3), 208–216
  34. Oparin PB, Mineev KS, Dunaevsky YE, Arseniev AS, Belozersky MA, Grishin EV, Egorov TA, Vassilevski AA (2012). Buckwheat trypsin inhibitor with helical hairpin structure belongs to a new family of plant defence peptides. Biochem J 446 (1), 69–77
  35. Andreev YA, Korostyleva TV, Slavokhotova AA, Rogozhin EA, Utkina LL, Vassilevski AA, Grishin EV, Egorov TA, Odintsova TI (2012). Genes encoding hevein-like defense peptides in wheat: Distribution, evolution, and role in stress response. B SOC CHIM BIOL 94 (4), 1009–1016
  36. Dubovskii PV, Vassilevski AA, Samsonova OV, Egorova NS, Kozlov SA, Feofanov AV, Arseniev AS, Grishin EV (2011). Novel lynx spider toxin shares common molecular architecture with defense peptides from frog skin. FEBS J 278 (22), 4382–4393
  37. Lazarev VN, Polina NF, Shkarupeta MM, Kostrjukova ES, Vassilevski AA, Kozlov SA, Grishin EV, Govorun VM (2011). Spider venom peptides for gene therapy of Chlamydia infection. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 55 (11), 5367–5369
  38. Dubovskii PV, Vassilevski AA, Slavokhotova AA, Odintsova TI, Grishin EV, Egorov TA, Arseniev AS (2011). Solution structure of a defense peptide from wheat with a 10-cysteine motif. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 411 (1), 14–18
  39. Nolde SB, Vassilevski AA, Rogozhin EA, Barinov NA, Balashova TA, Samsonova OV, Baranov YV, Feofanov AV, Egorov TA, Arseniev AS, Grishin EV (2011). Disulfide-stabilized helical hairpin structure and activity of a novel antifungal peptide EcAMP1 from seeds of barnyard grass (Echinochloa crus-galli). J Biol Chem 286 (28), 25145–25153
  40. Andreev YA, Kozlov SA, Vassilevski AA, Grishin EV (2010). Cyanogen bromide cleavage of proteins in salt and buffer solutions. Anal Biochem 407 (1), 144–146
  41. Vassilevski AA, Fedorova IM, Maleeva EE, Korolkova YV, Efimova SS, Samsonova OV, Schagina LV, Feofanov AV, Magazanik LG, Grishin EV (2010). Novel class of spider toxin: Active principle from the yellow sac spider Cheiracanthium punctorium venom is a unique two-domain polypeptide. J Biol Chem 285 (42), 32293–32302
  42. Billen B, Vassilevski A, Nikolsky A, Debaveye S, Tytgat J, Grishin E (2010). Unique bell-shaped voltage-dependent modulation of Na+ channel gating by novel insect-selective toxins from the spider Agelena orientalis. J Biol Chem 285 (24), 18545–18554
  43. Grishin EV, Savchenko GA, Vassilevski AA, Korolkova YV, Boychuk YA, Viatchenko-Karpinski VY, Nadezhdin KD, Arseniev AS, Pluzhnikov KA, Kulyk VB, Voitenko NV, Krishtal OO (2010). Novel peptide from spider venom inhibits P2X3 receptors and inflammatory pain. Ann Neurol 67 (5), 680–683
  44. Kurochkina LP, Aksyuk AA, Sachkova MY, Sykilinda NN, Mesyanzhinov VV (2009). Characterization of tail sheath protein of giant bacteriophage φKZ Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Virology 395 (2), 312–317
  45. Vassilevski AA, Kozlov SA, Grishin EV (2009). Molecular diversity of spider venom. Biochemistry (Mosc) 74 (13), 1505–1534
  46. Odintsova TI, Vassilevski AA, Slavokhotova AA, Musolyamov AK, Finkina EI, Khadeeva NV, Rogozhin EA, Korostyleva TV, Pukhalsky VA, Grishin EV, Egorov TA (2009). A novel antifungal hevein-type peptide from Triticum kiharae seeds with a unique 10-cysteine motif. FEBS J 276 (15), 4266–4275
  47. Polyansky AA, Vassilevski AA, Volynsky PE, Vorontsova OV, Samsonova OV, Egorova NS, Krylov NA, Feofanov AV, Arseniev AS, Grishin EV, Efremov RG (2009). N-terminal amphipathic helix as a trigger of hemolytic activity in antimicrobial peptides: A case study in latarcins. FEBS Lett 583 (14), 2425–2428
  48. Kozlov SA, Vassilevski AA, Grishin EV (2009). Secreted protein and peptide biosynthesis: Precursor structures and processing mechanisms.  (0), 225–248
  49. Billen B, Vassilevski A, Nikolsky A, Tytgat J, Grishin E (2008). Two novel sodium channel inhibitors from Heriaeus melloteei spider venom differentially interacting with mammalian channel's isoforms. Toxicon 52 (2), 309–317
  50. Vassilevski AA, Kozlov SA, Samsonova OV, Egorova NS, Karpunin DV, Pluzhnikov KA, Feofanov AV, Grishin EV (2008). Cyto-insectotoxins, a novel class of cytolytic and insecticidal peptides from spider venom. Biochem J 411 (3), 687–696
  51. Pluzhnikov K, Vassilevski A, Korolkova Y, Fisyunov A, Iegorova O, Krishtal O, Grishin E (2007). ω-Lsp-IA, a novel modulator of P-type Ca2+channels. Toxicon 50 (7), 993–1004
  52. Kozlov SA, Vassilevski AA, Grishin EV (2007). Peptidomics of Short Linear Cytolytic Peptides from Spider Venom.  (0), 55–70
  53. Kozlov SA, Vassilevski AA, Feofanov AV, Surovoy AY, Karpunin DV, Grishin EV (2006). Latarcins, antimicrobial and cytolytic peptides from the venom of the spider Lachesana tarabaevi (Zodariidae) that exemplify biomolecular diversity. J Biol Chem 281 (30), 20983–20992

Alexander Vassilevski

  • Russia, Moscow, Ul. Miklukho-Maklaya 16/10 — On the map
  • IBCh RAS, build. 51, office. 365
  • Phone: +7(495)336-65-40
  • E-mail:

Structure of two-domain spider toxins (2017-11-28)

Venoms of many spiders contain two-domain toxins that unite in their structure modules, which are similar to "simple" single-domain toxins. We conducted a detailed structural study of those toxins that consist of disulfide-rich (similar to ordinary neurotoxins) and linear (similar to conventional cytotoxins) modules. Linear modules can serve for the association of two-domain toxins with membranes due to the formation of amphiphilic helices, characteristic of membrane-active peptides. We propose a "membrane access" mode of action for two-domain toxins: linear modules interact with lipid bilayers, whereas disulfide-rich modules bind to protein receptors.