Scorpions are insensitive to their own venoms, which contain various neurotoxins specific for mammalian or insect ion channels, whose molecular mechanism remains unsolved. Using MmKv1, a potassium channel identified from the genome of the scorpion Mesobuthus martensii, channel kinetic experiments showed that MmKv1 was a classical voltage-gated potassium channel with a voltage-dependent fast activation and slow inactivation. Compared with the human Kv1.3 channel (hKv1.3), the MmKv1 channel exhibited a remarkable insensitivity to both scorpion venom and toxin. The chimaeric channels of MmKv1 and hKv1.3 revealed that both turret and filter regions of the MmKv1 channel were critical for the toxin insensitivity of MmKv1. Furthermore, mutagenesis of the chimaeric channel indicated that two basic residues (Arg399 and Lys403) in the MmKv1 turret region and Arg425 in the MmKv1 filter region significantly affected its toxin insensitivity. Moreover, when these three basic residues of MmKv1 were simultaneously substituted with the corresponding residues from hKv1.3, the MmKv1-R399T/K403S/R425H mutant channels exhibited similar sensitivity to both scorpion venom and toxin to hKv1.3, which revealed the determining role of these three basic residues in the toxin insensitivity of the MmKv1 channel. More strikingly, a similar triad sequence structure is present in all Shaker-like channels from venomous invertebrates, which suggested a possible convergent functional evolution of these channels to enable them to resist their own venoms. Together, these findings first illustrate the mechanism by which scorpions are insensitive to their own venoms at the ion channel receptor level and enrich our knowledge of the insensitivity of scorpions and other venomous animals to their own venoms.

You do not currently have access to this content.