Synthesis and Biological Activity of Novel α-Conotoxins Derived from Endemic Polynesian Cone Snails
α-Conotoxins are well-known probes for the characterization of the various subtypes of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs). Identifying new α-conotoxins with different pharmacological profiles can provide further insights into the physiological or pathological roles of the numerous nAChR isoforms found at the neuromuscular junction, the central and peripheral nervous systems, and other cells such as immune cells. This study focuses on the synthesis and characterization of two novel α-conotoxins obtained from two species endemic to the Marquesas Islands, namely Conus gauguini and Conus adamsonii . Both species prey on fish, and their venom is considered a rich source of bioactive peptides that can target a wide range of pharmacological receptors in vertebrates. Here, we demonstrate the versatile use of a one-pot disulfide bond synthesis to achieve the α-conotoxin fold [Cys 1-3; 2-4] for GaIA and AdIA, using the 2-nitrobenzyl (NBzl) protecting group of cysteines for effective regioselective oxidation. The potency and selectivity of GaIA and AdIA against rat nicotinic acetylcholine receptors were investigated electrophysiologically and revealed potent inhibitory activities. GaIA was most active at the muscle nAChR (IC 50 = 38 nM), whereas AdIA was most potent at the neuronal α6/3 β2β3 subtype (IC 50 = 177 nM). Overall, this study contributes to a better understanding of the structure–activity relationships of α-conotoxins, which may help in the design of more selective tools.