Scorpions are distributed throughout the world and numerous biological
molecules are found in their venom most importantly peptide toxins. These toxins
modulate the ion channels either by blocking the pore of the channel or by altering
the voltage gating. Molecules which block the pores have been useful in deciphering
the structure of the ion channels. Many scorpion toxins have already been used
for probing the voltage gated sodium channels and studying their activation and
inactivation processes. The specialty of scorpion toxins is to discriminate between
vertebrate and invertebrate channels which have led them to applications as pharmacological
tools. Most of the scorpion toxin polypeptides were isolated, characterized
and were shown to possess vital properties useful in the field of medicine.
For instance, they show therapeutic properties such as antimicrobial activity, anticancer activity, used
to treat autoimmune diseases and cardiovascular effects. Although the scorpion toxins exhibited good
therapeutic effects in vitro and in vivo, no one has reached the market with success up to date. In this
mini-review, the scorpion polypeptides, their interactions with ion channels and their uses as therapeutic
agents are discussed.
Keywords: Scorpion, toxins, polypeptide, therapeutic agent, voltage-gated ion channel, scorpion family.
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