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Open AccessReview

Cone Snails: A Big Store of Conotoxins for Novel Drug Discovery

by Bingmiao Gao 1,†, Chao Peng 2,†, Jiaan Yang 3, Yunhai Yi 2,4, Junqing Zhang 1,* and Qiong Shi 2,4,*
1
Hainan Provincial Key Laboratory of Research and Development of Tropical Medicinal Plants, Hainan Medical University, Haikou 571199, China
2
Shenzhen Key Lab of Marine Genomics, Guangdong Provincial Key Lab of Molecular Breeding in Marine Economic Animals, BGI Academy of Marine Sciences, BGI Marine, BGI, Shenzhen 518083, China
3
Micro Pharmtech, Ltd., Wuhan 430075, China
4
BGI Education Center, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenzhen 518083, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: Steve Peigneur
Toxins 2017, 9(12), 397; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins9120397
Received: 26 October 2017 / Revised: 28 November 2017 / Accepted: 4 December 2017 / Published: 7 December 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxins in Drug Discovery and Pharmacology)
Marine drugs have developed rapidly in recent decades. Cone snails, a group of more than 700 species, have always been one of the focuses for new drug discovery. These venomous snails capture prey using a diverse array of unique bioactive neurotoxins, usually named as conotoxins or conopeptides. These conotoxins have proven to be valuable pharmacological probes and potential drugs due to their high specificity and affinity to ion channels, receptors, and transporters in the nervous systems of target prey and humans. Several research groups, including ours, have examined the venom gland of cone snails using a combination of transcriptomic and proteomic sequencing, and revealed the existence of hundreds of conotoxin transcripts and thousands of conopeptides in each Conus species. Over 2000 nucleotide and 8000 peptide sequences of conotoxins have been published, and the number is still increasing quickly. However, more than 98% of these sequences still lack 3D structural and functional information. With the rapid development of genomics and bioinformatics in recent years, functional predictions and investigations on conotoxins are making great progress in promoting the discovery of novel drugs. For example, ω-MVIIA was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2004 to treat chronic pain, and nine more conotoxins are at various stages of preclinical or clinical evaluation. In short, the genus Conus, the big family of cone snails, has become an important genetic resource for conotoxin identification and drug development. View Full-Text
Keywords: conotoxin; cone snail; transcriptome; proteome; drug development conotoxin; cone snail; transcriptome; proteome; drug development
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Gao, B.; Peng, C.; Yang, J.; Yi, Y.; Zhang, J.; Shi, Q. Cone Snails: A Big Store of Conotoxins for Novel Drug Discovery. Toxins 2017, 9, 397.

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