Margatoxin (MgTx), an alpha-KTx scorpion toxin, is considered a selective inhibitor of the Kv1.3K + channel. This peptide is widely used in ion channel research; however, a comprehensive study of its selectivity with electrophysiological methods has not been published yet. The lack of selectivity might lead to undesired side effects upon therapeutic application or may lead to incorrect conclusion regarding the role of a particular ion channel in a physiological or pathophysiological response either in vitro or in vivo. Using the patch-clamp technique we characterized the selectivity profile of MgTx using L929 cells expressing mKv1.1 channels, human peripheral lymphocytes expressing Kv1.3 channels and transiently transfected tsA201 cells expressing hKv1.1, hKv1.2, hKv1.3, hKv1.4-IR, hKv1.5, hKv1.6, hKv1.7, rKv2.1, Shaker-IR, hERG, hKCa1.1, hKCa3.1 and hNav1.5 channels. MgTx is indeed a high affinity inhibitor of Kv1.3 (Kd = 11.7 pM) but is not selective, it inhibits the Kv1.2 channel with similar affinity (Kd = 6.4 pM) and Kv1.1 in the nanomolar range (Kd = 4.2 nM). Based on our comprehensive data MgTX has to be considered a non-selective Kv1.3 inhibitor, and thus, experiments aiming at elucidating the significance of Kv1.3 in in vitro or in vivo physiological responses have to be carefully evaluated.
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