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Open Access Publications from the University of California

BmK-YA, an Enkephalin-Like Peptide in Scorpion Venom

  • Author(s): Zhang, Yan
  • Xu, Junyan
  • Wang, Zhiwei
  • Zhang, Xiuli
  • Liang, Xinmiao
  • Civelli, Olivier
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License

By screening extracts of venom from the Asian scorpion Buthus martensii Karsch (BmK) for their abilities to activate opioid receptors, we have identified BmK-YA, an amidated peptide containing an enkephalin-like sequence. BmK-YA is encoded by a precursor that displays a signal sequence and contains four copies of BmK-YA sequences and four of His4-BmK-YA, all flanked by single amino acid residues. BmK-YA and His4-BmK-YA are amidated and thus fulfill the characteristics expected of bioactive peptides. BmK-YA can activate mammalian opioid receptors with selectivity for the δ subtype while His4-BmK-YA is inactive at opioid receptors. The discovery of BmK-YA suggests that scorpion venom may represent a novel source of bioactive molecules targeting G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and reveal additional insights on the evolution of the opioid precursors.

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