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Microanatomy of Voltage-Gated Ion Channels Targeted by Tarantula Venom Toxins


This thesis investigates ion channels modulated by tarantula peptide toxins. Through the research, two primary questions are investigated: (1) Can a fluorescent peptide tarantula toxin reveal activation of neuronal ion channels? and (2) Where in the body do tarantula peptide toxins bind ion channels? I address these questions through several different approaches using immunohistochemistry, tissue culture, and confocal and two-photon imaging. Resulting findings provide evidence that a toxin-based fluorescent probe viably demonstrates the location and activation of Kv2 channels in male and female rat brain neurons. Findings also demonstrate that the Nav1.7 channel, a pain therapeutic target, is found throughout the cell bodies and central processes of female mouse nonpeptidergic nociceptors. This research provides a basis for further exploration that may lead to new types of ion channel activity imaging and ion channel targeting therapeutics.

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