Snake three-finger toxin family

Three-finger toxins (3FTs) are non-enzymatic peptides found in all families of snakes. They are characterized by specific folding of three beta-sheet loops ("fingers") extending from the central core and by four conserved disulfide bridges. The three loops that project from the core region resemble three outstretched fingers of the hand and hence the name.

Despite their structural similarity, they differ widely in their targets that are numerous: L-type calcium channels (see entries, sodium channels (see entries, integrin receptors (see entries, cell membrane phospholipids (see entries, acetylcholinesterase (see entries, nicotinic acetylcholine (see entries or muscarinic, adrenergic and dopaminergic receptors (see entries.
3D-structure view (PDB 1IJC) of the three-finger toxin bucandin.

The 3FT family is classified in three categories (long, short and non-conventional), depending on the number and position of disulfide bonds.
image long-chain image
image short-chain image
image non-conventional image
Figure 1: Alignment of long, short and non-conventional 3FTs, with the common disulfide pairing (full lines) and the 5th disulfide pairing of long-chain and non-conventional subfamilies (dashed lines). κ-bgt (κ-1-bungarotoxin), α-EPTX-Ls2a (α-elapitoxin-Ls2a), γ-bgt (γ-bungarotoxin), WTX (Weak tryptophan-containing neurotoxin), CTX-1 (Cytotoxin 1) and CBT (Cobrotoxin).

The long-chain subfamily
This subfamily contains long 3FTs (66-79 amino acid residues) with a 5th disulfide bond in the second loop and, in most cases, a C-terminal extension (Fig.1). It is subdivided in two sub-subfamilies:

• Kappa-neurotoxin image
• Type II alpha-neurotoxin image
All image

The short-chain subfamily
This subfamily is composed of short 3FTs (57-66 amino acid residues) with four disulfide bonds and has usually only two residues before the first and after the last cysteine residues. The short-chain subfamily is subdivided in numerous sub-subfamilies, reflecting activity or geographical regroupment:

• Type I alpha-neurotoxin image
• Type III alpha-neurotoxin image
(unique to Australian elapids
(Jackson et al., 2013))
• Acn-esterase inhibitor image
• Antiplatelet toxin image
• Beta-cardiotoxin image
• L-type calcium blocker image
• Orphan group I image
• Orphan group III image
• Orphan group VII image
• Orphan group VIII
(haditoxin) image
• Orphan group IX image
• Orphan group X image
• Orphan group XI image
• Orphan group XII image
• Orphan group XIII image
• Orphan group XIV image
• Orphan group XV image
• Orphan group XVI image
• Orphan group XVIII image
• Orphan group XX image
• Aminergic (type A
muscarinic) toxin image
• Type B muscarinic toxin image
• Type C muscarinic toxin image
• Type IA cytotoxin image
• Type IB cytotoxin image

All image

The non-conventional subfamily
This subfamily was previously named "weak neurotoxin", because of the weak toxicity of the first members of this subfamily. It is composed of 3FTs with a 5th disulfide bond in the first loop (Fig.1) and mature proteins of this subfamily contain 62-77 amino acid residues. Non-conventional 3FTs are subdivided in several sub-subfamilies:

• Boigatoxin image
• Orphan group II image
• Orphan group IV image
• Orphan group V image
• Orphan group VI image
• Orphan group XVII image
• Orphan group XIX image

All image

Monomers, dimers
3FTs are mostly monomers (see entries, but a few covalent and non-covalent dimers (see entries have been described.