Friday, October 3, 2014

Toxic Shocker?

The BBC  recently acquired one of my spider photos for the October issue of their Wildlife magazine. The blurb with it was 'shockingly' racy and hyped up in true mass media fashion.

But the source link under the article lead to a publication of solid electrophysiology in Nature Communications:

Niraj S. Bende, Sławomir Dziemborowicz, Mehdi Mobli, Volker Herzig, John Gilchrist, Jordan Wagner, Graham M. Nicholson, Glenn F. King, Frank Bosmans
Nature Communications 5, Article number:4350
Abstract: β-Diguetoxin-Dc1a (​Dc1a) is a toxin from the desert bush spider Diguetia canities that incapacitates insects at concentrations that are non-toxic to mammals. ​Dc1a promotes opening of German cockroach voltage-gated sodium (Nav) channels (​BgNav1), whereas human Nav channels are insensitive. Here, by transplanting commonly targeted S3b–S4 paddle motifs within ​BgNav1 voltage sensors into ​Kv2.1, we find that ​Dc1a interacts with the domain II voltage sensor. In contrast, ​Dc1a has little effect on sodium currents mediated by ​PaNav1 channels from the American cockroach even though their domain II paddle motifs are identical. When exploring regions responsible for ​PaNav1 resistance to ​Dc1a, we identified two residues within the ​BgNav1 domain II S1–S2 loop that when mutated to their ​PaNav1 counterparts drastically reduce toxin susceptibility. Overall, our results reveal a distinct region within insect Nav channels that helps determine ​Dc1a sensitivity, a concept that will be valuable for the design of insect-selective insecticides.

I am of course glad to have my image associated with this research, even through a magazine that tries to make science palatable by using racy come-ons. Though how many readers will make it at least as far as the abstract? 

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