JUL 13, 2020 6:35 PM PDT

Chemists decode how tripeptide KPP in scorpion venom dialates blood vessels

While, of course, scorpion venom itself is quite dangerous, isolating certain compounds of the venom provides unique opportunities for a number of health problems. Because venom is composed of biologically active molecules, including neurotoxins, vasodilators, and antimicrobial compounds, scientists have been interested in harnessing the molecular powers of the toxin.

Now chemists investigating the active molecules in scorpion venom are a step closer to understanding why the toxic venom is a source for potential cardiovascular disease drugs. The new research is published in ACS' Journal of Proteome Research highlighting the recent findings.

Scorpion venom is unique because of a peptide in it that has been shown to have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system of rats with high blood pressure. The tripeptide KPP (Lys-Pro-Pro) is found in the C-terminus of Ts14—a 25-mer peptide from the venom of the Tityus serrulatus scorpion. It causes blood vessels to dilate and blood pressure to fall in hypertensive rats. 

However, until now, scientists haven’t been able to understand how exactly KPP affects heart muscle cells. 

Researchers Thiago Verano-Braga and Adriano Pimenta exposed mouse cardiac muscle cells in ex vivo and monitored the chemical reactions of the cells using mass spectrometry. Their findings showed that KPP regulates proteins that are linked to cell death, energy production, muscle contraction and protein turnover. 

Photo: Pixabay

Furthermore, as Eureka Alert reports, “The scorpion peptide triggered the phosphorylation of a mouse protein called AKT, which activated it and another protein involved in the production of nitric oxide, a vasodilator. KPP treatment, however, caused dephosphorylation of a protein called phospholamban, leading to reduced contraction of cardiac muscle cells. Both AKT and phospholamban are already known to protect cardiac tissue from injuries caused by lack of oxygen.”

The researchers say that these findings are significant evidence to call for further investigation into KPP in order to determine the role it could play in developing a drug for cardiovascular problems.

Sources: Journal of Proteome Research, Eureka Alert

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JUL 23, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
Lab Tests Show Levels of THC Can Rise in CBD Oil During Storage
JUL 23, 2020
Lab Tests Show Levels of THC Can Rise in CBD Oil During Storage
To be federally legal in all states CBD (cannabidiol) oil must contain less than 0.3 percent of the psychoactive ingredi ...
JUL 22, 2020
Infographics
The Science of Sourdough
JUL 22, 2020
The Science of Sourdough
During the coronavirus stay-at-home order, many people have taken up the art of making sourdough bread and have learned ...
AUG 17, 2020
Technology
An Answer To a Mathematical Conundrum Could Improve Computers
AUG 17, 2020
An Answer To a Mathematical Conundrum Could Improve Computers
A riddle was recently solved by two mathematicians that can improve modern-day phones and computers. "We had nearly ...
SEP 10, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Major advance demonstrated in X-ray crystallographic sample techniques
SEP 10, 2020
Major advance demonstrated in X-ray crystallographic sample techniques
New research published in Nature Communications has corroborated a technique using a microfluidic droplet generator that ...
OCT 10, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Imagining the sunspots of other solar systems
OCT 10, 2020
Imagining the sunspots of other solar systems
A recent study published in the Astrophysical Journal takes a new look at sunspots in order to understand stellar activi ...
OCT 21, 2020
Technology
Can House Paint Revolutionize Technology?
OCT 21, 2020
Can House Paint Revolutionize Technology?
Can house paint revolutionize technology? Apparently, yes! Researchers discovered that titanium oxide, a component of pa ...
Loading Comments...