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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 'BY' version 4.0 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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