Василевский Александр Александрович


Период обученияСтрана, городУчебное заведениеДополнительная информация
1999–2004 Россия, Москва МГУ им. М.В. Ломоносова, биологический факультет, кафедра биоорганической химии Диплом по специальности «биохимия» с отличием

Избранные публикации

  1. Oparin P.B., Nadezhdin K.D., Berkut A.A., Arseniev A.S., Grishin E.V., Vassilevski A.A. (2016). Structure of purotoxin-2 from wolf spider: modular design and membrane-assisted mode of action in arachnid toxins. Biochem. J. 473 (19), 3113–26 [+]

    Traditionally, arachnid venoms are known to contain two particularly important groups of peptide toxins. One is disulfide-rich neurotoxins with a predominance of β-structure that specifically target protein receptors in neurons or muscle cells. The other is linear cationic cytotoxins that form amphiphilic α-helices and exhibit rather non-specific membrane-damaging activity. In the present paper, we describe the first 3D structure of a modular arachnid toxin, purotoxin-2 (PT2) from the wolf spider Alopecosa marikovskyi (Lycosidae), studied by NMR spectroscopy. PT2 is composed of an N-terminal inhibitor cystine knot (ICK, or knottin) β-structural domain and a C-terminal linear cationic domain. In aqueous solution, the C-terminal fragment is hyper-flexible, whereas the knottin domain is very rigid. In membrane-mimicking environment, the C-terminal domain assumes a stable amphipathic α-helix. This helix effectively tethers the toxin to membranes and serves as a membrane-access and membrane-anchoring device. Sequence analysis reveals that the knottin + α-helix architecture is quite widespread among arachnid toxins, and PT2 is therefore the founding member of a large family of polypeptides with similar structure motifs. Toxins from this family target different membrane receptors such as P2X in the case of PT2 and calcium channels, but their mechanism of action through membrane access may be strikingly similar.

  2. Kuzmenkov A.I., Sachkova M.Y., Kovalchuk S.I., Grishin E.V., Vassilevski A.A. (2016). Lachesana tarabaevi, an expert in membrane-active toxins. Biochem. J. 473 (16), 2495–506 [+]

    In the present study, we show that venom of the ant spider Lachesana tarabaevi is unique in terms of molecular composition and toxicity. Whereas venom of most spiders studied is rich in disulfide-containing neurotoxic peptides, L. tarabaevi relies on the production of linear (no disulfide bridges) cytolytic polypeptides. We performed full-scale peptidomic examination of L. tarabaevi venom supported by cDNA library analysis. As a result, we identified several dozen components, and a majority (∼80% of total venom protein) exhibited membrane-active properties. In total, 33 membrane-interacting polypeptides (length of 18-79 amino acid residues) comprise five major groups: repetitive polypeptide elements (Rpe), latarcins (Ltc), met-lysines (MLys), cyto-insectotoxins (CIT) and latartoxins (LtTx). Rpe are short (18 residues) amphiphilic molecules that are encoded by the same genes as antimicrobial peptides Ltc 4a and 4b. Isolation of Rpe confirms the validity of the iPQM (inverted processing quadruplet motif) proposed to mark the cleavage sites in spider toxin precursors that are processed into several mature chains. MLys (51 residues) present 'idealized' amphiphilicity when modelled in a helical wheel projection with sharply demarcated sectors of hydrophobic, cationic and anionic residues. Four families of CIT (61-79 residues) are the primary weapon of the spider, accounting for its venom toxicity. Toxins from the CIT 1 and 2 families have a modular structure consisting of two shorter Ltc-like peptides. We demonstrate that in CIT 1a, these two parts act in synergy when they are covalently linked. This finding supports the assumption that CIT have evolved through the joining of two shorter membrane-active peptides into one larger molecule.

  3. Kuzmenkov A.I., Krylov N.A., Chugunov A.O., Grishin E.V., Vassilevski A.A. (2016). Kalium: a database of potassium channel toxins from scorpion venom. Database (Oxford) 2016, [+]

    Kalium (http://kaliumdb.org/) is a manually curated database that accumulates data on potassium channel toxins purified from scorpion venom (KTx). This database is an open-access resource, and provides easy access to pages of other databases of interest, such as UniProt, PDB, NCBI Taxonomy Browser, and PubMed. General achievements of Kalium are a strict and easy regulation of KTx classification based on the unified nomenclature supported by researchers in the field, removal of peptides with partial sequence and entries supported by transcriptomic information only, classification of β-family toxins, and addition of a novel λ-family. Molecules presented in the database can be processed by the Clustal Omega server using a one-click option. Molecular masses of mature peptides are calculated and available activity data are compiled for all KTx. We believe that Kalium is not only of high interest to professional toxinologists, but also of general utility to the scientific community.Database URL:http://kaliumdb.org/.

  4. Kuzmenkov A.I., Nekrasova O.V., Kudryashova K.S., Peigneur S., Tytgat J., Stepanov A.V., Kirpichnikov M.P., Grishin E.V., Feofanov A.V., Vassilevski A.A. (2016). Fluorescent protein-scorpion toxin chimera is a convenient molecular tool for studies of potassium channels. Sci Rep 6, 33314 [+]

    Ion channels play a central role in a host of physiological and pathological processes and are the second largest target for existing drugs. There is an increasing need for reliable tools to detect and visualize particular ion channels, but existing solutions suffer from a number of limitations such as high price, poor specificity, and complicated protocols. As an alternative, we produced recombinant chimeric constructs (FP-Tx) consisting of fluorescent proteins (FP) fused with potassium channel toxins from scorpion venom (Tx). In particular, we used two FP, eGFP and TagRFP, and two Tx, OSK1 and AgTx2, to create eGFP-OSK1 and RFP-AgTx2. We show that these chimeras largely retain the high affinity of natural toxins and display selectivity to particular ion channel subtypes. FP-Tx are displaced by other potassium channel blockers and can be used as an imaging tool in ion channel ligand screening setups. We believe FP-Tx chimeras represent a new efficient molecular tool for neurobiology.

  5. Dubovskii P.V., Vassilevski A.A., Kozlov S.A., Feofanov A.V., Grishin E.V., Efremov R.G. (2015). Latarcins: versatile spider venom peptides. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 72 (23), 4501–22 [+]

    Arthropod venoms feature the presence of cytolytic peptides believed to act synergetically with neurotoxins to paralyze prey or deter aggressors. Many of them are linear, i.e., lack disulfide bonds. When isolated from the venom, or obtained by other means, these peptides exhibit common properties. They are cationic; being mostly disordered in aqueous solution, assume amphiphilic α-helical structure in contact with lipid membranes; and exhibit general cytotoxicity, including antifungal, antimicrobial, hemolytic, and anticancer activities. To suit the pharmacological needs, the activity spectrum of these peptides should be modified by rational engineering. As an example, we provide a detailed review on latarcins (Ltc), linear cytolytic peptides from Lachesana tarabaevi spider venom. Diverse experimental and computational techniques were used to investigate the spatial structure of Ltc in membrane-mimicking environments and their effects on model lipid bilayers. The antibacterial activity of Ltc was studied against a panel of Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. In addition, the action of Ltc on erythrocytes and cancer cells was investigated in detail with confocal laser scanning microscopy. In the present review, we give a critical account of the progress in the research of Ltc. We explore the relationship between Ltc structure and their biological activity and derive molecular characteristics, which can be used for optimization of other linear peptides. Current applications of Ltc and prospective use of similar membrane-active peptides are outlined.

  6. Kuzmenkov A.I., Grishin E.V., Vassilevski A.A. (2015). Diversity of Potassium Channel Ligands: Focus on Scorpion Toxins. Biochemistry Mosc. 80 (13), 1764–99 [+]

    Potassium (K+) channels are a widespread superfamily of integral membrane proteins that mediate selective transport of K+ ions through the cell membrane. They have been found in all living organisms from bacteria to higher multicellular animals, including humans. Not surprisingly, K+ channels bind ligands of different nature, such as metal ions, low molecular mass compounds, venom-derived peptides, and antibodies. Functionally these substances can be K+ channel pore blockers or modulators. Representatives of the first group occlude the channel pore, like a cork in a bottle, while the second group of ligands alters the operation of channels without physically blocking the ion current. A rich source of K+ channel ligands is venom of different animals: snakes, sea anemones, cone snails, bees, spiders, and scorpions. More than a half of the known K+ channel ligands of polypeptide nature are scorpion toxins (KTx), all of which are pore blockers. These compounds have become an indispensable molecular tool for the study of K+ channel structure and function. A recent special interest is the possibility of toxin application as drugs to treat diseases involving K+ channels or related to their dysfunction (channelopathies).

  7. Kuzmenkov A.I., Vassilevski A.A., Kudryashova K.S., Nekrasova O.V., Peigneur S., Tytgat J., Feofanov A.V., Kirpichnikov M.P., Grishin E.V. (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), 12195–209 [+]

    The lesser Asian scorpion Mesobuthus eupeus (Buthidae) is one of the most widely spread and dispersed species of the Mesobuthus genus, and its venom is actively studied. Nevertheless, a considerable amount of active compounds is still under-investigated due to the high complexity of this venom. Here, we report a comprehensive analysis of putative potassium channel toxins (KTxs) from the cDNA library of M. eupeus venom glands, and we compare the deduced KTx structures with peptides purified from the venom. For the transcriptome analysis, we used conventional tools as well as a search for structural motifs characteristic of scorpion venom components in the form of regular expressions. We found 59 candidate KTxs distributed in 30 subfamilies and presenting the cysteine-stabilized α/β and inhibitor cystine knot types of fold. M. eupeus venom was then separated to individual components by multistage chromatography. A facile fluorescent system based on the expression of the KcsA-Kv1.1 hybrid channels in Escherichia coli and utilization of a labeled scorpion toxin was elaborated and applied to follow Kv1.1 pore binding activity during venom separation. As a result, eight high affinity Kv1.1 channel blockers were identified, including five novel peptides, which extend the panel of potential pharmacologically important Kv1 ligands. Activity of the new peptides against rat Kv1.1 channel was confirmed (IC50 in the range of 1-780 nm) by the two-electrode voltage clamp technique using a standard Xenopus oocyte system. Our integrated approach is of general utility and efficiency to mine natural venoms for KTxs.

  8. Berkut A.A., Peigneur S., Myshkin M.Y., Paramonov A.S., Lyukmanova E.N., Arseniev A.S., Grishin E.V., Tytgat J., Shenkarev Z.O., Vassilevski A.A. (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 [+]

    We present a structural and functional study of a sodium channel activation inhibitor from crab spider venom. Hm-3 is an insecticidal peptide toxin consisting of 35 amino acid residues from the spider Heriaeus melloteei (Thomisidae). We produced Hm-3 recombinantly in Escherichia coli and determined its structure by NMR spectroscopy. Typical for spider toxins, Hm-3 was found to adopt the so-called "inhibitor cystine knot" or "knottin" fold stabilized by three disulfide bonds. Its molecule is amphiphilic with a hydrophobic ridge on the surface enriched in aromatic residues and surrounded by positive charges. Correspondingly, Hm-3 binds to both neutral and negatively charged lipid vesicles. Electrophysiological studies showed that at a concentration of 1 μm Hm-3 effectively inhibited a number of mammalian and insect sodium channels. Importantly, Hm-3 shifted the dependence of channel activation to more positive voltages. Moreover, the inhibition was voltage-dependent, and strong depolarizing prepulses attenuated Hm-3 activity. The toxin is therefore concluded to represent the first sodium channel gating modifier from an araneomorph spider and features a "membrane access" mechanism of action. Its amino acid sequence and position of the hydrophobic cluster are notably different from other known gating modifiers from spider venom, all of which are described from mygalomorph species. We hypothesize parallel evolution of inhibitor cystine knot toxins from Araneomorphae and Mygalomorphae suborders.

  9. Pluzhnikov K.A., Kozlov S.A., Vassilevski A.A., Vorontsova O.V., Feofanov A.V., Grishin E.V. (2014). Linear antimicrobial peptides from Ectatomma quadridens ant venom. Biochimie 107 Pt B, 211–5 [+]

    Venoms from three poneromorph ant species (Paraponera clavata, Ectatomma quadridens and Ectatomma tuberculatum) were investigated for the growth inhibition of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. It was shown that the venom of E. quadridens and its peptide fraction in particular possess marked antibacterial action. Three linear antimicrobial peptides sharing low similarity to the well-known ponericin peptides were isolated from this ant venom by means of size-exclusion and reversed-phase chromatography. The peptides showed antimicrobial activity at low micromolar concentrations. Their primary structure was established by direct Edman sequencing in combination with mass spectrometry. The most active peptide designated ponericin-Q42 was chemically synthesized. Its secondary structure was investigated in aqueous and membrane-mimicking environment, and the peptide was shown to be partially helical already in water, which is unusual for short linear peptides. Analysis of its activity on different bacterial strains, human erythrocytes and chronic myelogenous leukemia K562 cells revealed that the peptide shows broad spectrum cytolytic activity at micromolar and submicromolar concentrations. Ponericin-Q42 also possesses weak toxic activity on flesh fly larvae with LD50 of ∼105 μg/g.

  10. Slavokhotova A.A., Naumann T.A., Price N.P., Rogozhin E.A., Andreev Y.A., Vassilevski A.A., Odintsova T.I. (2014). Novel mode of action of plant defense peptides - hevein-like antimicrobial peptides from wheat inhibit fungal metalloproteases. FEBS J. , [+]

    The multilayered plant immune system relies on rapid recognition of pathogen-associated molecular patterns followed by activation of defense-related genes, resulting in the reinforcement of plant cell walls and the production of antimicrobial compounds. To suppress plant defense, fungi secrete effectors, including a recently discovered Zn-metalloproteinase from Fusarium verticillioides, named fungalysin Fv-cmp. This proteinase cleaves class IV chitinases, which are plant defense proteins that bind and degrade chitin of fungal cell walls. In this study, we investigated plant responses to such pathogen invasion, and discovered novel inhibitors of fungalysin. We produced several recombinant hevein-like antimicrobial peptides named wheat antimicrobial peptides (WAMPs) containing different amino acids (Ala, Lys, Glu, and Asn) at the nonconserved position 34. An additional Ser at the site of fungalysin proteolysis makes the peptides resistant to the protease. Moreover, an equal molar concentration of WAMP-1b or WAMP-2 to chitinase was sufficient to block the fungalysin activity, keeping the chitinase intact. Thus, WAMPs represent novel protease inhibitors that are active against fungal metalloproteases. According to in vitro antifungal assays WAMPs directly inhibited hyphal elongation, suggesting that fungalysin plays an important role in fungal development. A novel molecular mechanism of dynamic interplay between host defense molecules and fungal virulence factors is suggested.

  11. Sachkova M.Y., Slavokhotova A.A., Grishin E.V., Vassilevski A.A. (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), 527–38 [+]

    Yellow sac spiders (Cheiracanthium punctorium, family Miturgidae) are unique in terms of venom composition, because, as we show here, two-domain toxins have replaced the usual one-domain peptides as the major constituents. We report the structure of the two-domain Che. punctorium toxins (CpTx), along with the corresponding cDNA and genomic DNA sequences. At least three groups of insecticidal CpTx were identified, each consisting of several members. Unlike many cone snail and snake toxins, accelerated evolution is not typical of cptx genes, which instead appear to be under the pressure of purifying selection. Both CpTx modules present the inhibitor cystine knot (ICK), or knottin signature; however, the sequence similarity between the domains is low. Conversely, notable similarity was found between separate domains of CpTx and one-domain toxins from spiders of the Lycosidae family. The observed chimerism is a landmark of exon shuffling events, but in contrast to many families of multidomain protein genes no introns were found in the cptx genes. Considering the possible scenarios, we suggest that an early transcription-mediated fusion event between two related one-domain toxin genes led to the emergence of a primordial cptx-like sequence. We conclude that evolution of toxin variability in spiders appears to be quite different from other venomous animals.

  12. Berkut A.A., Usmanova D.R., Peigneur S., Oparin P.B., Mineev K.S., Odintsova T.I., Tytgat J., Arseniev A.S., Grishin E.V., Vassilevski A.A. (2014). Structural similarity between defense peptide from wheat and scorpion neurotoxin permits rational functional design. J. Biol. Chem. 289 (20), 14331–40 [+]

    In this study, we present the spatial structure of the wheat antimicrobial peptide (AMP) Tk-AMP-X2 studied using NMR spectroscopy. This peptide was found to adopt a disulfide-stabilized α-helical hairpin fold and therefore belongs to the α-hairpinin family of plant defense peptides. Based on Tk-AMP-X2 structural similarity to cone snail and scorpion potassium channel blockers, a mutant molecule, Tk-hefu, was engineered by incorporating the functionally important residues from κ-hefutoxin 1 onto the Tk-AMP-X2 scaffold. The designed peptide contained the so-called essential dyad of amino acid residues significant for channel-blocking activity. Electrophysiological studies showed that although the parent peptide Tk-AMP-X2 did not present any activity against potassium channels, Tk-hefu blocked Kv1.3 channels with similar potency (IC50 ∼ 35 μm) to κ-hefutoxin 1 (IC50 ∼ 40 μm). We conclude that α-hairpinins are attractive in their simplicity as structural templates, which may be used for functional engineering and drug design.

  13. Sachkova M.Y., Slavokhotova A.A., Grishin E.V., Vassilevski A.A. (2014). Genes and evolution of two-domain toxins from lynx spider venom. FEBS Lett. 588 (5), 740–5 [+]

    Spiderines are comparatively long polypeptide toxins (∼110 residues) from lynx spiders (genus Oxyopes). They are built of an N-terminal linear cationic domain (∼40 residues) and a C-terminal knottin domain (∼60 residues). The linear domain empowers spiderines with strong cytolytic activity. In the present work we report 16 novel spiderine sequences from Oxyopes takobius and Oxyopes lineatus classified into two subfamilies. Strikingly, negative selection acts on both linear and knottin domains. Genes encoding Oxyopes two-domain toxins were sequenced and found to be intronless. We further discuss a possible scenario of lynx spider modular toxin evolution.

  14. Slavokhotova A.A., Rogozhin E.A., Musolyamov A.K., Andreev Y.A., Oparin P.B., Berkut A.A., Vassilevski A.A., Egorov T.A., Grishin E.V., Odintsova T.I. (2014). Novel antifungal α-hairpinin peptide from Stellaria media seeds: structure, biosynthesis, gene structure and evolution. Plant Mol. Biol. 84 (1-2), 189–202 [+]

    Plant defense against disease is a complex multistage system involving initial recognition of the invading pathogen, signal transduction and activation of specialized genes. An important role in pathogen deterrence belongs to so-called plant defense peptides, small polypeptide molecules that present antimicrobial properties. Using multidimensional liquid chromatography, we isolated a novel antifungal peptide named Sm-AMP-X (33 residues) from the common chickweed (Stellaria media) seeds. The peptide sequence shows no homology to any previously described proteins. The peculiar cysteine arrangement (C(1)X3C(2)XnC(3)X3C(4)), however, allocates Sm-AMP-X to the recently acknowledged α-hairpinin family of plant defense peptides that share the helix-loop-helix fold stabilized by two disulfide bridges C(1)-C(4) and C(2)-C(3). Sm-AMP-X exhibits high broad-spectrum activity against fungal phytopathogens. We further showed that the N- and C-terminal "tail" regions of the peptide are important for both its structure and activity. The truncated variants Sm-AMP-X1 with both disulfide bonds preserved and Sm-AMP-X2 with only the internal S-S-bond left were progressively less active against fungi and presented largely disordered structure as opposed to the predominantly helical conformation of the full-length antifungal peptide. cDNA and gene cloning revealed that Sm-AMP-X is processed from a unique multimodular precursor protein that contains as many as 12 tandem repeats of α-hairpinin-like peptides. Structure of the sm-amp-x gene and two related pseudogenes sm-amp-x-ψ1 and sm-amp-x-ψ2 allows tracing the evolutionary scenario that led to generation of such a sophisticated precursor protein. Sm-AMP-X is a new promising candidate for engineering disease resistance in plants.

  15. Vassilevski A.A., Sachkova M.Y., Ignatova A.A., Kozlov S.A., Feofanov A.V., Grishin E.V. (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), 6247–61 [+]

    In addition to the conventional neurotoxins and cytotoxins, venom of the lynx spider Oxyopes takobius was found to contain two-domain modular toxins named spiderines: OtTx1a, 1b, 2a and 2b. These toxins show both insecticidal activity (a median lethal dose against flesh fly larvae of 75 μg·g(-1) ) and potent antimicrobial effects (minimal inhibitory concentrations in the range 0.1-10 μm). Full sequences of the purified spiderines were established by a combination of Edman degradation, mass spectrometry and cDNA cloning. They are relatively large molecules (~ 110 residues, 12.0-12.5 kDa) and consist of two distinct modules separated by a short linker. The N-terminal part (~ 40 residues) contains no cysteine residues, is highly cationic, forms amphipathic α-helical structures in a membrane-mimicking environment, and shows potent cytolytic effects on cells of various origins. The C-terminal part (~ 60 residues) is disulfide-rich (five S-S bonds), and contains the inhibitor cystine knot (ICK/knottin) signature. The N-terminal part of spiderines is very similar to linear cytotoxic peptides found in various organisms, whereas the C-terminal part corresponds to the usual spider neurotoxins. We synthesized the modules of OtTx1a and compared their activity to that of full-length mature toxin produced recombinantly, highlighting the importance of the N-terminal part, which retained full-length toxin activity in both insecticidal and antimicrobial assays. The unique structure of spiderines completes the range of two-domain spider toxins.

  16. Чугунов А.О., Василевский А.А. (2013). Эволюционная «гонка вооружений»: нейротоксины против ионных каналов. Наука и Жизнь 11, 42–48 [+]

    Биологическая эволюция — общая форма существования живой материи. При детальном рассмотрении оказывается, что виды почти никогда не эволюционируют поодиночке. Обычно в этом принимают участие их экологические партнёры. Таким образом, изменение происходит в парах: паразит — хозяин, хищник — жертва. Эволюционное изменение одного вида неизбежно приводит к изменению другого. Более того, взаимную эволюцию, когда один вид совершенствует систему нападения, а другой вслед за ним — систему защиты (и наоборот), часто можно проследить на молекулярном уровне. И здесь наиболее действенной и элегантной оказалась система нападения с помощью ядов, содержащих в своём составе нейротоксины — вещества, воздействующие на нервную систему и мышцы жертвы.

  17. Utkina L.L., Andreev Y.A., Rogozhin E.A., Korostyleva T.V., Slavokhotova A.A., Oparin P.B., Vassilevski A.A., Grishin E.V., Egorov T.A., Odintsova T.I. (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), 3594–608 [+]

    A novel family of antifungal peptides was discovered in the wheat Triticum kiharae Dorof. et Migusch. Two members of the family, designated Tk-AMP-X1 and Tk-AMP-X2, were completely sequenced and shown to belong to the α-hairpinin structural family of plant peptides with a characteristic C1XXXC2-X(n)-C3XXXC4 motif. The peptides inhibit the spore germination of several fungal pathogens in vitro. cDNA and gene cloning disclosed unique structure of genes encoding Tk-AMP-X peptides. They code for precursor proteins of unusual multimodular structure, consisting of a signal peptide, several α-hairpinin (4-Cys) peptide domains with a characteristic cysteine pattern separated by linkers and a C-terminal prodomain. Three types of precursor proteins, with five, six or seven 4-Cys peptide modules, were found in wheat. Among the predicted family members, several peptides previously isolated from T. kiharae seeds were identified. Genes encoding Tk-AMP-X precursors have no introns in the protein-coding regions and are upregulated by fungal pathogens and abiotic stress, providing conclusive evidence for their role in stress response. A combined PCR-based and bioinformatics approach was used to search for related genes in the plant kingdom. Homologous genes differing in the number of peptide modules were discovered in phylogenetically-related Triticum and Aegilops species, including polyploid wheat genome donors. Association of the Tk-AMP-X genes with A, B/G or D genomes of hexaploid wheat was demonstrated. Furthermore, Tk-AMP-X-related sequences were shown to be widespread in the Poaceae family among economically important crops, such as barley, rice and maize.

  18. Chugunov A.O., Koromyslova A.D., Berkut A.A., Peigneur S., Tytgat J., Polyansky A.A., Pentkovsky V.M., Vassilevski A.A., Grishin E.V., Efremov R.G. (2013). Modular Organization of α-Toxins from Scorpion Venom Mirrors Domain Structure of Their Targets, Sodium Channels. J. Biol. Chem. 288 (26), 19014–27 [+]

    To gain success in the evolutionary "arms race," venomous animals such as scorpions produce diverse neurotoxins selected to hit targets in the nervous system of prey. Scorpion α-toxins affect insect and/or mammalian voltage-gated sodium channels (Navs) and thereby modify the excitability of muscle and nerve cells. Although more than 100 α-toxins are known and a number of them have been studied into detail, the molecular mechanism of their interaction with Navs is still poorly understood. Here, we employ extensive molecular dynamics simulations and spatial mapping of hydrophobic/hydrophilic properties distributed over the molecular surface of α-toxins. It is revealed that despite the small size and relatively rigid structure, these toxins possess modular organization from structural, functional, and evolutionary perspectives. The more conserved and rigid "core module" is supplemented with the "specificity module" (SM) that is comparatively flexible and variable and determines the taxon (mammal versus insect) specificity of α-toxin activity. We further show that SMs in mammal toxins are more flexible and hydrophilic than in insect toxins. Concomitant sequence-based analysis of the extracellular loops of Navs suggests that α-toxins recognize the channels using both modules. We propose that the core module binds to the voltage-sensing domain IV, whereas the more versatile SM interacts with the pore domain in repeat I of Navs. These findings corroborate and expand the hypothesis on different functional epitopes of toxins that has been reported previously. In effect, we propose that the modular structure in toxins evolved to match the domain architecture of Navs.

  19. Kuzmenkov A.I., Fedorova I.M., Vassilevski A.A., Grishin E.V. (2013). Cysteine-rich toxins from Lachesana tarabaevi spider venom with amphiphilic C-terminal segments. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1828 (2), 724–31 [+]

    Venom of Lachesana tarabaevi (Zodariidae, "ant spiders") exhibits high insect toxicity and serves a rich source of potential insecticides. Five new peptide toxins active against insects were isolated from the venom by means of liquid chromatography and named latartoxins (LtTx). Complete amino acid sequences of LtTx (60-71 residues) were established by a combination of Edman degradation, mass spectrometry and selective proteolysis. Three toxins have eight cysteine residues that form four intramolecular disulfide bridges, and two other molecules contain an additional cystine; three LtTx are C-terminally amidated. Latartoxins can be allocated to two groups with members similar to CSTX and LSTX toxins from Cupiennius salei (Ctenidae) and Lycosa singoriensis (Lycosidae). The interesting feature of the new toxins is their modular organization: they contain an N-terminal cysteine-rich (knottin or ICK) region as in many neurotoxins from spider venoms and a C-terminal linear part alike some cytolytic peptides. The C-terminal fragment of one of the most abundant toxins LtTx-1a was synthesized and shown to possess membrane-binding activity. It was found to assume amphipathic α-helical conformation in membrane-mimicking environment and exert antimicrobial activity at micromolar concentrations. The tails endow latartoxins with the ability to bind and damage membranes; LtTx show cytolytic activity in fly larvae neuromuscular preparations. We suggest a membrane-dependent mode of action for latartoxins with their C-terminal linear modules acting as anchoring devices.

  20. Kudryashova K.S., Nekrasova O.V., Kuzmenkov A.I., Vassilevski A.A., Ignatova A.A., Korolkova Y.V., Grishin E.V., Kirpichnikov M.P., Feofanov A.V. (2013). Fluorescent system based on bacterial expression of hybrid KcsA channels designed for Kv1.3 ligand screening and study. Analytical and bioanalytical chemistry , [+]

    Human voltage-gated potassium channel Kv1.3 is an important pharmacological target for the treatment of autoimmune and metabolic diseases. Increasing clinical demands stipulate an active search for efficient and selective Kv1.3 blockers. Here we present a new, reliable, and easy-to-use analytical system designed to seek for and study Kv1.3 ligands that bind to the extracellular vestibule of the K(+)-conducting pore. It is based on Escherichia coli spheroplasts with the hybrid protein KcsA-Kv1.3 embedded into the membrane, fluorescently labeled Kv1.3 blocker agitoxin-2, and confocal laser scanning microscopy as a detection method. This system is a powerful alternative to radioligand and patch-clamp techniques. It enables one to search for Kv1.3 ligands both among individual compounds and in complex mixtures, as well as to characterize their affinity to Kv1.3 channel using the "mix and read" mode. To demonstrate the potential of the system, we performed characterization of several known Kv1.3 ligands, tested nine spider venoms for the presence of Kv1.3 ligands, and conducted guided purification of a channel blocker from scorpion venom.

  21. Polyansky A.A., Chugunov A.O., Vassilevski A.A., Grishin E.V., Efremov R.G. (2012). Recent Advances in Computational Modeling of α-Helical Membrane- Active Peptides. Curr. Protein Pept. Sci. 13 (7), 644–57 [+]

    Membrane-active peptides (MAPs) represent a broad variety of molecules, and biological functions of most are directly associated with their ability to interact with membranes. Taking into account the effect of MAPs on living cells they can be nominally divided into three major groups - fusion (FPs), antimicrobial/cytolytic (AMPs/CPs) and cellpenetrating (CPPs) peptides. Although spatial structure of different MAPs varies to a great extent, linear α-helical peptides represent the most studied class. These peptides possess relatively simple structural organization and share a set of similar molecular features, which make them very attractive to both experimental and computational studies. Here, we review different molecular modeling methods in prospective of their applications to study of α-helical MAPs. The most sophisticated of them, such as molecular dynamics simulations, give atomistic information about molecular interactions driving peptide binding to the water-lipid interface, cooperative mechanisms of membrane destabilization and thermodynamics of these processes. Significant progress has been achieved in this field during the last few years, resulting in a possibility to observe computationally MAPs action in realistic peptide-to-lipid ratios and over the microsecond timescale. Other relatively simple but powerful approaches allow assessment of important characteristics of MAPs such as α-helical propensity, amphiphilicity, total hydrophobicity, and spatial distribution of charge and hydrophobic/hydrophilic properties, etc. Altogether, computational methods provide efficient basis for rational design of MAPs with predefined properties and a spectrum of biological activities.

  22. Oparin P.B., Mineev K.S., Dunaevsky Y.E., Arseniev A.S., Belozersky M.A., Grishin E.V., Egorov T.A., Vassilevski A.A. (2012). Buckwheat trypsin inhibitor with helical hairpin structure belongs to a new family of plant defence peptides. Biochem. J. 446 (1), 69–77 [+]

    A new peptide trypsin inhibitor named BWI-2c was obtained from buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) seeds by sequential affinity, ion exchange and reversed-phase chromatography. The peptide was sequenced and found to contain 41 amino acid residues, with four cysteine residues involved in two intramolecular disulfide bonds. Recombinant BWI-2c identical to the natural peptide was produced in Escherichia coli in a form of a cleavable fusion with thioredoxin. The 3D (three-dimensional) structure of the peptide in solution was determined by NMR spectroscopy, revealing two antiparallel α-helices stapled by disulfide bonds. Together with VhTI, a trypsin inhibitor from veronica (Veronica hederifolia), BWI-2c represents a new family of protease inhibitors with an unusual α-helical hairpin fold. The linker sequence between the helices represents the so-called trypsin inhibitory loop responsible for direct binding to the active site of the enzyme that cleaves BWI-2c at the functionally important residue Arg19. The inhibition constant was determined for BWI-2c against trypsin (1.7×10-10 M), and the peptide was tested on other enzymes, including those from various insect digestive systems, revealing high selectivity to trypsin-like proteases. Structural similarity shared by BWI-2c, VhTI and several other plant defence peptides leads to the acknowledgement of a new widespread family of plant peptides termed α-hairpinins.

  23. Kabanova N.V., Vassilevski A.A., Rogachevskaja O.A., Bystrova M.F., Korolkova Y.V., Pluzhnikov K.A., Romanov R.A., Grishin E.V., Kolesnikov S.S. (2012). Modulation of P2X3 receptors by spider toxins. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1818 (11), 2868–2875 [+]

    Recently, the novel peptide named purotoxin-1 (PT1) has been identified in the venom of the spider Geolycosa sp. and shown to exert marked modulatory effects on P2X3 receptors in rat sensory neurons. Here we studied another polypeptide from the same spider venom, purotoxin-2 (PT2), and demonstrated that it also affected activity of mammalian P2X3 receptors. The murine and human P2X3 receptors were heterologously expressed in cells of the CHO line, and nucleotide-gated currents were stimulated by CTP and ATP, respectively. Both PT1 and PT2 negligibly affected P2X3-mediated currents elicited by brief pulses of the particular nucleotide. When subthreshold CTP or ATP was added to the bath to exert the high-affinity desensitization of P2X3 receptors, both spider toxins strongly enhanced the desensitizing action of the ambient nucleotides. At the concentration of 50nM, PT1 and PT2 elicited 3-4-fold decrease in the IC(50) dose of ambient CTP or ATP. In contrast, 100nM PT1 and PT2 negligibly affected nucleotide-gated currents mediated by mP2X2 receptors or mP2X2/mP2X3 heteromers. Altogether, our data point out that the PT1 and PT2 toxins specifically target the fast-desensitizing P2X3 receptor, thus representing a unique tool to manipulate its activity.

  24. Andreev Y.A., Korostyleva T.V., Slavokhotova A.A., Rogozhin E.A., Utkina L.L., Vassilevski A.A., Grishin E.V., Egorov T.A., Odintsova T.I. (2012). Genes encoding hevein-like defense peptides in wheat: Distribution, evolution, and role in stress response. Biochimie 94 (4), 1009–16 [+]

    Hevein-like plant defense peptides WAMP-1a/b with a unique 10-Cys motif are found in the wheat Triticum kiharae seeds. Three different wamp genomic and cDNA sequences were derived from T. kiharae; no introns were spotted in the protein-coding regions of the genes. The deduced Wamp precursor proteins consist of a signal peptide, mature peptide (WAMP) and C-terminal prosequence. Origin of WAMPs from class I/IV chitinases via deletion of the catalytic domain is proposed based on homology between their genes. Genome screening of several cereals and goatgrasses from the genera Triticum and Aegilops was performed. No wamp homologues were identified in Triticum monococcum (A(b)A(b)) or Triticum urartu (A(u)A(u)), diploid species with an A genome. To the contrary, highly homologous wamp genes were discovered in hexaploid Triticum aestivum (A(u)A(u)BBDD) and T. kiharae (A(b)A(b)GGDD), and the putative genome donors Triticum timopheevii (A(b)A(b)GG), Aegilops speltoides (BB), and Aegilops tauschii (DD), providing strong evidence for the ancient origin of these genes and their association with the B, D and G genomes. The role of T. kiharae WAMPs in biotic stress is suggested by their antifungal activity and increased accumulation of wamp transcripts in response to phytopathogen challenge. Differential reaction to fungi was demonstrated: Fusarium oxysporum enhanced expression of wamp genes, whereas Aspergillus niger induced transcription reprogramming and alternative polyadenylation. WAMPs participate in plant response also to abiotic stress. Although no changes were noted at elevated or decreased temperatures, high salt concentrations enhanced wamp expression, the first indication of hevein-type peptide participation in salinity stress.

  25. Andreev Y.A., Vassilevski A.A., Kozlov S.A. (2012). Molecules to selectively target receptors for treatment of pain and neurogenic inflammation. Recent Pat Inflamm Allergy Drug Discov 6 (1), 35–45 [+]

    Receptors that are involved in generation and transduction of pain signals attract much interest from the scientific and corporate communities. Good commercial prospects for successful development of effective analgesic drugs stimulate significantly the research. This article provides a brief overview of the key molecular targets, i.e. cell receptors, inhibition of which can lead to analgesia. Today transient receptor potential (TRP), purinergic (P2X) receptors and acidsensing ion channels (ASIC) are considered to be the most important proteins for perception of pain stimuli. These ionotropic receptors also participate in the development of inflammation; their hyperactivity leads to many pathological conditions and is closely associated with acute and inflammatory pain. Development of molecules capable to selectively modulate these receptors, their in vitro and in vivo effects, as well as perspectives for practical application described in patents and research articles are reviewed in this paper.

  26. Lazarev V.N., Polina N.F., Shkarupeta M.M., Kostrjukova E.S., Vassilevski A.A., Kozlov S.A., Grishin E.V., Govorun V.M. (2011). Spider venom peptides for gene therapy of Chlamydia infection. Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy 55 (11), 5367–9 [+]

    Spider venoms are vast natural pharmacopoeias selected by evolution. The venom of the ant spider Lachesana tarabaevi contains a wide variety of antimicrobial peptides. We tested six of them (latarcins 1, 2a, 3a, 4b, 5, and cytoinsectotoxin 1a) for their ability to suppress Chlamydia trachomatis infection. HEK293 cells were transfected with plasmid vectors harboring the genes of the selected peptides. Controlled expression of the transgenes led to a significant decrease of C. trachomatis viability inside the infected cells.

  27. Dubovskii P.V., Vassilevski A.A., Samsonova O.V., Egorova N.S., Kozlov S.A., Feofanov A.V., Arseniev A.S., Grishin E.V. (2011). Novel lynx spider toxin shares common molecular architecture with defense peptides from frog skin. FEBS J. 278 (22), 4382–93 [+]

    A unique 30-residue cationic peptide oxyopinin 4a (Oxt 4a) was identified in the venom of the lynx spider Oxyopes takobius (Oxyopidae). Oxt 4a contains a single N-terminally located disulfide bond, Cys4-Cys10, and is structurally different from any spider toxin studied so far. According to NMR findings, the peptide is disordered in water, but assumes a peculiar torpedo-like structure in detergent micelles. It features a C-terminal amphipathic α-helical segment (body; residues 12-25) and an N-terminal disulfide-stabilized loop (head; residues 1-11), and has an unusually high density of positive charge in the head region. Synthetic Oxt 4a was produced and shown to possess strong and broad-spectrum cytolytic and antimicrobial activity. cDNA cloning showed that the peptide is synthesized in the form of a conventional prepropeptide with an acidic prosequence. Unlike other arachnid toxins, Oxt 4a exhibits striking similarity with defense peptides from the skin of ranid frogs that contain the so-called Rana-box motif (a C-terminal disulfide-enclosed loop). Parallelism or convergence is apparent on several levels: the structure, function and biosynthesis of a lynx spider toxin are mirrored by those of Rana-box peptides from frogs. DATABASE: The protein sequence of oxyopinin 4a (Oxt 4a) has been submitted to the UniProt Knowledgebase (UniProtKB) under the accession number P86350. The coordinates and chemical shifts of Oxt 4a in complex with dodecylphosphocholine micelles have been deposited in the Protein Data Bank and Biological Magnetic Resonance Bank under the accession codes 2L3I and 17194, respectively. The nucleotide sequence encoding Oxt 4a has been submitted to the EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Database under the accession number FN997582.

  28. Dubovskii P.V., Vassilevski A.A., Slavokhotova A.A., Odintsova T.I., Grishin E.V., Egorov T.A., Arseniev A.S. (2011). Solution structure of a defense peptide from wheat with a 10-cysteine motif. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 411 (1), 14–8 [+]

    Hevein, a well-studied lectin from the rubber tree Hevea brasiliensis, is the title representative of a broad family of chitin-binding polypeptides. WAMP-1a, a peptide isolated from the wheat Triticum kiharae, shares considerable similarity with hevein. The peptide possesses antifungal, antibacterial activity and is thought to play an important role in the defense system of wheat. Importantly, it features a substitution of the conserved serine residue to glycine reducing its carbohydrate-binding capacity. We used NMR spectroscopy to derive the spatial structure of WAMP-1a in aqueous solution. Notably, the mutation was found to strengthen amphiphilicity of the molecule, associated with its mode of action, an indication of the hevein domain multi-functionality. Both primary and tertiary structure of WAMP-1a suggest its evolutionary origin from the hevein domain of plant chitinases.

  29. Nolde S.B., Vassilevski A.A., Rogozhin E.A., Barinov N.A., Balashova T.A., Samsonova O.V., Baranov Y.V., Feofanov A.V., Egorov T.A., Arseniev A.S., Grishin E.V. (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), 25145–53 [+]

    This study presents purification, activity characterization, and (1)H NMR study of the novel antifungal peptide EcAMP1 from kernels of barnyard grass Echinochloa crus-galli. The peptide adopts a disulfide-stabilized α-helical hairpin structure in aqueous solution and thus represents a novel fold among naturally occurring antimicrobial peptides. Micromolar concentrations of EcAMP1 were shown to inhibit growth of several fungal phytopathogens. Confocal microscopy revealed intensive EcAMP1 binding to the surface of fungal conidia followed by internalization and accumulation in the cytoplasm without disturbance of membrane integrity. Close spatial structure similarity between EcAMP1, the trypsin inhibitor VhTI from seeds of Veronica hederifolia, and some scorpion and cone snail toxins suggests natural elaboration of different functions on a common fold.

  30. Andreev Y.A., Kozlov S.A., Vassilevski A.A., Grishin E.V. (2010). Cyanogen bromide cleavage of proteins in salt and buffer solutions. Anal. Biochem. 407 (1), 144–6 [+]

    Protocols for recombinant polypeptide production should provide high yields and be efficient, user friendly, and time saving. To perform cyanogen bromide (CNBr) cleavage of fusion proteins, the majority of researchers first desalted and vacuum-dried samples and then dissolved them in aqueous formic or trifluoroacetic acid. We propose to exclude the desalting step and run CNBr cleavage directly. We show that the commonly used Tris-HCl, sodium phosphate, NaCl, imidazole, and guanidine-HCl do not interfere with the reaction under acidic conditions. Omitting the desalting step does not decrease the final yields of target products, as demonstrated for fusion proteins of different origin and composition.

  31. Vassilevski A.A., Fedorova I.M., Maleeva E.E., Korolkova Y.V., Efimova S.S., Samsonova O.V., Schagina L.V., Feofanov A.V., Magazanik L.G., Grishin E.V. (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), 32293–302 [+]

    Venom of the yellow sac spider Cheiracanthium punctorium (Miturgidae) was found unique in terms of molecular composition. Its principal toxic component CpTx 1 (15.1 kDa) was purified, and its full amino acid sequence (134 residues) was established by protein chemistry and mass spectrometry techniques. CpTx 1 represents a novel class of spider toxin with modular architecture. It consists of two different yet homologous domains (modules) each containing a putative inhibitor cystine knot motif, characteristic of the widespread single domain spider neurotoxins. Venom gland cDNA sequencing provided precursor protein (prepropeptide) structures of three CpTx 1 isoforms (a-c) that differ by single residue substitutions. The toxin possesses potent insecticidal (paralytic and lethal), cytotoxic, and membrane-damaging activities. In both fly and frog neuromuscular preparations, it causes stable and irreversible depolarization of muscle fibers leading to contracture. This effect appears to be receptor-independent and is inhibited by high concentrations of divalent cations. CpTx 1 lyses cell membranes, as visualized by confocal microscopy, and destabilizes artificial membranes in a manner reminiscent of other membrane-active peptides by causing numerous defects of variable conductance and leading to bilayer rupture. The newly discovered class of modular polypeptides enhances our knowledge of the toxin universe.

  32. 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), 18545–54 [+]

    Spider venoms provide a highly valuable source of peptide toxins that act on a wide diversity of membrane-bound receptors and ion channels. In this work, we report isolation, biochemical analysis, and pharmacological characterization of a novel family of spider peptide toxins, designated beta/delta-agatoxins. These toxins consist of 36-38 amino acid residues and originate from the venom of the agelenid funnel-web spider Agelena orientalis. The presented toxins show considerable amino acid sequence similarity to other known toxins such as mu-agatoxins, curtatoxins, and delta-palutoxins-IT from the related spiders Agelenopsis aperta, Hololena curta, and Paracoelotes luctuosus. beta/delta-Agatoxins modulate the insect Na(V) channel (DmNa(V)1/tipE) in a unique manner, with both the activation and inactivation processes being affected. The voltage dependence of activation is shifted toward more hyperpolarized potentials (analogous to site 4 toxins) and a non-inactivating persistent Na(+) current is induced (site 3-like action). Interestingly, both effects take place in a voltage-dependent manner, producing a bell-shaped curve between -80 and 0 mV, and they are absent in mammalian Na(V) channels. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first detailed report of peptide toxins with such a peculiar pharmacological behavior, clearly indicating that traditional classification of toxins according to their binding sites may not be as exclusive as previously assumed.

  33. Grishin E.V., Savchenko G.A., Vassilevski A.A., Korolkova Y.V., Boychuk Y.A., ViatchenkoKarpinski V.Y., Nadezhdin K.D., Arseniev A.S., Pluzhnikov K.A., Kulyk V.B., Voitenko N.V., Krishtal O.O. (2010). Novel peptide from spider venom inhibits P2X3 receptors and inflammatory pain. Ann. Neurol. 67 (5), 680–3 [+]

    P2X3 purinoreceptors expressed in mammalian sensory neurons play a key role in several processes, including pain perception. From the venom of the Central Asian spider Geolycosa sp., we have isolated a novel peptide, named purotoxin-1 (PT1), which is to our knowledge the first natural molecule exerting powerful and selective inhibitory action on P2X3 receptors. PT1 dramatically slows down the removal of desensitization of these receptors. The peptide demonstrates potent antinociceptive properties in animal models of inflammatory pain.

  34. Vassilevski A.A., Kozlov S.A., Egorov T.A., Grishin E.V. (2010). Purification and characterization of biologically active peptides from spider venoms. Methods Mol. Biol. 615, 87–100 [+]

    Spider venoms represent invaluable sources of biologically active compounds suitable for use in life science research and also having a significant potential for biotechnology and therapeutic applications. The methods reported herewith are based on our long experience of spider venom fractionation and peptides purification. We routinely screen new peptides for antimicrobial and insecticidal activities and our detailed protocols are also reported here. So far these have been tested on species of Central Asian and European spiders from the families Agelenidae, Eresidae, Gnaphosidae, Lycosidae, Miturgidae, Oxyopidae, Philodromidae, Pisauridae, Segestriidae, Theridiidae, Thomisidae, and Zodariidae. The reported protocols should be easily adaptable for use with other arthropod species.

  35. Vassilevski A.A., Kozlov S.A., Grishin E.V. (2009). Molecular diversity of spider venom. Biochemistry Mosc. 74 (13), 1505–34 [+]

    Spider venom, a factor that has played a decisive role in the evolution of one of the most successful groups of living organisms, is reviewed. Unique molecular diversity of venom components including substances of variable structure (from simple low molecular weight compounds to large multidomain proteins) with different functions is considered. Special attention is given to the structure, properties, and biosynthesis of toxins of polypeptide nature.

  36. Odintsova T.I., Vassilevski A.A., Slavokhotova A.A., Musolyamov A.K., Finkina E.I., Khadeeva N.V., Rogozhin E.A., Korostyleva T.V., Pukhalsky V.A., Grishin E.V., Egorov T.A. (2009). A novel antifungal hevein-type peptide from Triticum kiharae seeds with a unique 10-cysteine motif. FEBS J. 276 (15), 4266–75 [+]

    Two forms of a novel antimicrobial peptide (AMP), named WAMP-1a and WAMP-1b, that differ by a single C-terminal amino acid residue and belong to a new structural type of plant AMP were purified from seeds of Triticum kiharae Dorof. et Migusch. Although WAMP-1a and WAMP-1b share similarity with hevein-type peptides, they possess 10 cysteine residues arranged in a unique cysteine motif which is distinct from those described previously for plant AMPs, but is characteristic of the chitin-binding domains of cereal class I chitinases. An unusual substitution of a serine for a glycine residue in the chitin-binding domain was detected for the first time in hevein-like polypeptides. Recombinant WAMP-1a was successfully produced in Escherichia coli. This is the first case of high-yield production of a cysteine-rich plant AMP from a synthetic gene. Assays of recombinant WAMP-1a activity showed that the peptide possessed high broad-spectrum inhibitory activity against diverse chitin-containing and chitin-free pathogens, with IC(50) values in the micromolar range. The discovery of a new type of AMP active against structurally dissimilar microorganisms implies divergent modes of action and discloses the complexity of plant-microbe interactions.

  37. Polyansky A.A., Vassilevski A.A., Volynsky P.E., Vorontsova O.V., Samsonova O.V., Egorova N.S., Krylov N.A., Feofanov A.V., Arseniev A.S., Grishin E.V., Efremov R.G. (2009). N-terminal amphipathic helix as a trigger of hemolytic activity in antimicrobial peptides: a case study in latarcins. FEBS Lett. 583 (14), 2425–8 [+]

    In silico structural analyses of sets of alpha-helical antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are performed. Differences between hemolytic and non-hemolytic AMPs are revealed in organization of their N-terminal region. A parameter related to hydrophobicity of the N-terminal part is proposed as a measure of the peptide propensity to exhibit hemolytic and other unwanted cytotoxic activities. Based on the information acquired, a rational approach for selective removal of these properties in AMPs is suggested. A proof of concept is gained through engineering specific mutations that resulted in elimination of the hemolytic activity of AMPs (latarcins) while leaving the beneficial antimicrobial effect intact.

  38. 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), 309–17 [+]

    Two new polypeptide toxins named Hm-1 and Hm-2 were isolated from the venom of the crab spider Heriaeus melloteei. These toxins consist of 37 and 40 amino acid residues, respectively, contain three intramolecular disulfide bonds, and presumably adopt the inhibitor cystine knot motif. Hm-1 is C-terminally amidated and shows a low degree of homology to spider toxins agelenin and micro-agatoxin-II, whereas Hm-2 has no relevantly related peptide sequences. Hm-1 and Hm-2 were found to act on mammalian voltage-gated Na(+) channels. Both toxins caused a strong decrease of Na(+) current peak amplitude, with IC(50) values of 336.4 and 154.8 nM, respectively, on Na(V)1.4. Hm-1 and Hm-2 did not shift the voltage-dependence of activation, nor did they change the kinetics of fast inactivation of the Na(+) currents. Interestingly, both toxins negatively shifted the steady-state inactivation process, which might have important functional consequences in vivo. However, this hyperpolarizing shift cannot by itself explain the observed inhibition of the Na(+) current, indicating that the two presented toxins could provide important structural information about the interaction of polypeptide inhibitors with voltage-gated Na(+) channels.

  39. Shlyapnikov Y.M., Andreev Y.A., Kozlov S.A., Vassilevski A.A., Grishin E.V. (2008). Bacterial production of latarcin 2a, a potent antimicrobial peptide from spider venom. Protein Expr. Purif. 60 (1), 89–95 [+]

    Natural venoms are promising sources of candidate therapeutics including antibiotics. A recently described potent antimicrobial peptide latarcin 2a (Ltc 2a) from Lachesana tarabaevi spider venom shows a broad-spectrum antibacterial activity. This peptide consists of 26 amino acid residues and therefore its production using chemical synthesis, although trivial, is costly. We describe an easy approach to Ltc 2a production in Escherichia coli using the conventional fusion partner thioredoxin. Latarcin 2a synthetic gene was cloned into the expression vector pET-32b, which was then used to transform E. coli BL21(DE3) strain. His-tagged fusion purification was achieved using metal-chelate affinity chromatography. Since no methionine residues are present in the latarcin 2a sequence, cyanogen bromide could be effectively utilized to separate the target product from the carrier protein. Reverse-phase HPLC was used as the final step of purification; the final yield was approximately 3 mg/L of bacterial culture. To increase the yields, we attempted incorporation of Ltc 2a tandem repeats into the fusion protein; however, production rates greatly decreased due to enhanced fusion toxicity. Moreover, we probed constructs to produce an Ltc 2a dimer and the Ltc 2a propeptide to study their functional properties. Recombinant peptides were produced at appreciable yields and biological tests to determine their activities were performed. Latarcin 2a is the first linear peptide from spider venom and one of the first membrane-active peptides from venomous animals to be biosynthetically produced.

  40. Vassilevski A.A., Kozlov S.A., Samsonova O.V., Egorova N.S., Karpunin D.V., Pluzhnikov K.A., Feofanov A.V., Grishin E.V. (2008). Cyto-insectotoxins, a novel class of cytolytic and insecticidal peptides from spider venom. Biochem. J. 411 (3), 687–96 [+]

    Eight linear cationic peptides with cytolytic and insecticidal activity, designated cyto-insectotoxins (CITs), were identified in Lachesana tarabaevi spider venom. The peptides showed antibiotic activity towards Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria at micromolar concentrations as well as toxicity to insects. The primary structures of the toxins were established by direct Edman sequencing in combination with enzymatic and chemical polypeptide degradation and MS. CITs represent a novel class of cytolytic molecules and spider venom toxins. They are the first example of molecules showing equally potent antimicrobial and insecticidal effects. Analysis of L. tarabaevi venom gland expressed sequence tag database revealed the primary structures of the protein precursors; eight peptides homologous with the purified toxins were additionally predicted. CIT precursors share a conventional prepropeptide structure with an acidic prosequence and a processing motif common to most spider toxin precursors. The most abundant peptide, CIT 1a, was chemically synthesized, and its lytic activity on different bacterial strains, human erythrocytes and lymphocytes, insect cells, planar lipid bilayers and lipid vesicles was characterized. The spider L. tarabaevi is suggested to have evolved to rely on a unique set of linear cytolytic toxins, as opposed to the more common disulfide-containing spider neurotoxins.

  41. Pluzhnikov K., Vassilevski A., Korolkova Y., Fisyunov A., Iegorova O., Krishtal O., Grishin E. (2007). omega-Lsp-IA, a novel modulator of P-type Ca2+ channels. Toxicon 50 (7), 993–1004 [+]

    A novel polypeptide, designated omega-Lsp-IA, which modulates P-type Ca(2+) channels, was purified from the venom of the spider Geolycosa sp. omega-Lsp-IA contains 47 amino acid residues and 4 intramolecular disulfide bridges. It belongs to a group of spider toxins affecting Ca(2+) channels and presumably forms the inhibitor cystine knot (ICK) fold. Peculiar structural features (a cluster of positively charged residues in the C-terminal loop of the peptide and a regular distribution of hydrophobic residues) that may play a decisive role in the omega-Lsp-IA mechanism of action were located. Recombinant omega-Lsp-IA was produced in prokaryotic expression system and was shown to be structurally and functionally identical to the native toxin. At saturating concentration (10nM), the peptide clearly slows down the activation kinetics and partially inhibits the amplitude of P-current in rat cerebellar Purkinje neurons. Prominent deceleration of the activation kinetics is manifested as the appearance of a five-fold slower component of the current activation. The specificity of action of omega-Lsp-IA on different Ca(2+) channel types was studied in isolated hippocampal neurons of rat. omega-Agatoxin IVA completely removed the effect of omega-Lsp-IA on the whole-cell Ca(2+) current. Therefore, omega-Lsp-IA appears to act specifically on P-type Ca(2+) channels.

  42. Kozlov S.A., Vassilevski A.A., Feofanov A.V., Surovoy A.Y., Karpunin D.V., Grishin E.V. (2006). Latarcins, antimicrobial and cytolytic peptides from the venom of the spider Lachesana tarabaevi (Zodariidae) that exemplify biomolecular diversity. J. Biol. Chem. 281 (30), 20983–92 [+]

    Семейство коротких линейных полипептидных молекул — латарцинов — было найдено в яде паука Lachesana tarabaevi, часть из них была получена химическим синтезом и исследована на антибактериальное действие. Бактерицидная активность латарцинов соответствовала лучшим антимикробным пептидам, обнаруженным у различных видов животных. Большой терапевтический потенциал этих простых по структуре полипептидных молекул будет реализован, с большой долей вероятности, в самое ближайшее время.