Helokinestatins: A novel family of bioactive peptides with drug-lead potential fromthe venomof the Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum)

Christopher Shaw, Tianbao Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Venom of the Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum) has proven to be an unlikely source of lead compounds (exendins) for the development of new injectable peptide therapeutics for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. However, no systematic searches for new classes of bioactive peptides in lizard venom have appeared until recently. Here we describe the discovery of a new class of peptides – the helokinestatins – from H. suspectum venom, their structural characterisation and that of their biosynthetic precursors from cloned cDNA. In addition, we have subjected members of the family to preliminary pharmacological characterisation. Helokinestatins 1–6 are a family of proline-rich peptides containing 10–15 amino acid residues terminating in a common -Pro-Arg.OH motif. They are encoded in tandem within two virtually identical biosynthetic precursors of 177 and 178 amino acid residues, differing by only a single Pro residue. Each precursor also encodes a single copy of a C-type natriuretic peptide located at the C-terminus. Synthetic replicates of all helokinestatins were shown to be devoid of any direct action on the smooth muscle of rat tail artery but were found to be potent inhibitors of bradykinin-induced relaxation in this preparation in a manner that is suggestive of a non-competitive mechanism. Helokinestatin-3 (VPPPPLQMPLIPR) and helokinestatin-5 (VPPPLQMPLIPR) were found to be most potent in this respect causing almost complete inhibition of bradykinin-induced relaxation. Helokinestatins and BPPs may have a shared evolutionary history but the former do not inhibit ACE. The bradykinin inhibitory potential of helokinestatins may be exploited in the local control of chronic inflammation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-24
Number of pages2
JournalRegulatory Peptides
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010


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