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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Toxins 2017, 9(5), 155;

Insect-Active Toxins with Promiscuous Pharmacology from the African Theraphosid Spider Monocentropus balfouri

Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia
School of Life Sciences, University of Technology Sydney, NSW, Sydney 2007, Australia
Department of Physiology & Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Present address: QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Herston, QLD 4006, Australia.
Academic Editor: Lourival D. Possani
Received: 28 March 2017 / Revised: 24 April 2017 / Accepted: 28 April 2017 / Published: 5 May 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
PDF [8776 KB, uploaded 5 May 2017]


Many chemical insecticides are becoming less efficacious due to rising resistance in pest species, which has created much interest in the development of new, eco-friendly bioinsecticides. Since insects are the primary prey of most spiders, their venoms are a rich source of insect-active peptides that can be used as leads for new bioinsecticides or as tools to study molecular receptors that are insecticidal targets. In the present study, we isolated two insecticidal peptides, µ/ω-TRTX-Mb1a and -Mb1b, from venom of the African tarantula Monocentropus balfouri. Recombinant µ/ω-TRTX-Mb1a and -Mb1b paralyzed both Lucilia cuprina (Australian sheep blowfly) and Musca domestica (housefly), but neither peptide affected larvae of Helicoverpa armigera (cotton bollworms). Both peptides inhibited currents mediated by voltage-gated sodium (NaV) and calcium channels in Periplaneta americana (American cockroach) dorsal unpaired median neurons, and they also inhibited the cloned Blattella germanica (German cockroach) NaV channel (BgNaV1). An additional effect seen only with Mb1a on BgNaV1 was a delay in fast inactivation. Comparison of the NaV channel sequences of the tested insect species revealed that variations in the S1–S2 loops in the voltage sensor domains might underlie the differences in activity between different phyla. View Full-Text
Keywords: insecticide; pharmacology; venom; sodium channel; calcium channel; spider insecticide; pharmacology; venom; sodium channel; calcium channel; spider

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Smith, J.J.; Herzig, V.; Ikonomopoulou, M.P.; Dziemborowicz, S.; Bosmans, F.; Nicholson, G.M.; King, G.F. Insect-Active Toxins with Promiscuous Pharmacology from the African Theraphosid Spider Monocentropus balfouri. Toxins 2017, 9, 155.

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