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Taicatoxin (TCX) is a snake toxin that blocks voltage-dependent L-type calcium channels and small conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channels. The name taicatoxin (TAIpan + CAlcium + TOXIN) is derived from its natural source, the taipan snake, the site of its action, calcium channels, and from its function as a toxin. Taicatoxin was isolated from the venom of Australian taipan snake, Oxyuranus scutellatus scutellatus. TCX is a secreted protein, produced in the venom gland of the snake.[1]



Through SDS-PAGE analysis, TCX (112154-17-3 ) was determined to be a complex held together by non-covalent forces of the following three polypeptides in a stoichiometry of 1:1:4 respectively:[2]

The active complex was isolated by ion exchange chromatography through DE-Cellulose and two steps of Cm-Cellulose chromatography at pH = 4.7 and pH = 6.0, respectively. It migrates in beta-alanine-acetate-urea gel electrophoresis as a single compound. The phospholipase activity can be separated by affinity chromatography, using a phospholipid analog (PC-Sepharose). The alpha-neurotoxin-like peptide can be separated from the protease inhibitor, Sephadex G-50 gel filtration chromatography can be used, in the presence of high salt (1M NaCl) and alkaline conditions (pH = 8.2). The amino sequence of the protease inhibitor was determined by using the automatic Edman degradation method.


Taicatoxin acts on the voltage-dependent L-type calcium channels from the heart, and on the small conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channels in the chromaffin cells and in the brain.[3] It has a high affinity for the 125I-apamin acceptor-binding sites of the rat synaptosomal membranes (Ki = 1.45±0.22 nM) and blocks affinity-labeling of a 33-kDa 125I-apamin-binding polypeptide. Other neurotoxins that act on the calcium channels are calcicludine, calciseptine, ω-conotoxin, ω-agatoxin.

Mode of action

It lowers the plateau of the action potential, decreasing the duration and the concentration parameters in the heart muscle cells. It has been seen that the 16-kDa subunit exhibits phospholipase activity, inducing a release of acyl CoA and acyl carnitine, fact which has a negative effect on cell’s integrity and function. TCX is involved in the outer hair cell motility too, by blocking the calcium traffic and preventing the cell shortening and elongation.[4][5] Taicatoxin has an inhibitory effect by reducing the affinity of 125I-apamin for its acceptor and not by alteration of the acceptor binding site density.


A dose of 1 to 2 μg of taicatoxin can kill a mouse of 20 g in 2 hours. Pretreatment with taicatoxin (0.19 μM) on the outer hair cells of guinea pig prevented the cell shortening induced by high K+ (50 mM) and the cell elongation induced by ionomycine (10 μM).[5] This is due to the fact that taicatoxin blocks the calcium influx through the calcium channels in the cell’s membrane. 50 nM of taicatoxin blocks the apamin-sensitive after-hyperpolarizing slow tail K+ currents in rat chromaffin cells, but not immediately; instead, 5 μM of this toxin immediately blocks the ISK(Ca) tail current. It has been shown that taicatoxin blocks the calcium currents in heart cells with IC50 between 10-500 nM. Also was seen to evoke severe arrhythmias and prolonged changes in the intercellular electrical coupling.[6]


  1. ^ Brown AM, Yatani A, Lacerda AE, Gurrola GB, Possani LD (1987). "Neurotoxins that act selectively on voltage-dependent cardiac calcium channels". Circ. Res. 61 (4 Pt 2): I6–9. PMID 2443275.
  2. ^ Possani LD, Martin BM, Yatani A, Mochca-Morales J, Zamudio FZ, Gurrola GB, Brown AM (1992). "Isolation and physiological characterization of taicatoxin, a complex toxin with specific effects on calcium channels". Toxicon 30 (11): 1343–64. PMID 1485334.
  3. ^ Doorty KB, Bevan S, Wadsworth JD, Strong PN (1997). "A novel small conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channel blocker from Oxyuranus scutellatus taipan venom. Re-evaluation of taicatoxin as a selective Ca2+ channel probe". J. Biol. Chem. 272 (32): 19925–30. doi:10.1074/jbc.272.32.19925. PMID 9242659.
  4. ^ Schnee ME, Ricci AJ (2003). "Biophysical and pharmacological characterization of voltage-gated calcium currents in turtle auditory hair cells". J. Physiol. (Lond.) 549 (Pt 3): 697–717. doi:10.1113/jphysiol.2002.037481. PMID 12740421.
  5. ^ a b Su MC, Lee SY, Tan CT, Su CC, Li SY, Lin RH, Hung CC, Lin MJ (2005). "Taicatoxin inhibits the calcium-dependent slow motility of mammalian outer hair cells". Hear. Res. 203 (1-2): 172–9. doi:10.1016/j.heares.2004.12.003. PMID 15855042.
  6. ^ Fantini E, Athias P, Tirosh R, Pinson A (1996). "Effect of TaiCatoxin (TCX) on the electrophysiological, mechanical and biochemical characteristics of spontaneously beating ventricular cardiomyocytes". Mol. Cell. Biochem. 160-161: 61–6. doi:10.1007/BF00240032. PMID 8901456.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Taicatoxin". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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