Analysis of binding of cobra cardiotoxins to heparin reveals a new β- sheet heparin-binding structural motif

Alka A. Vyas, Jiann Jong Pan, Himatkumar V. Patel, Kavita A. Vyas, Chien Min Chiang, You Cheng Sheu, Jenn Kang Hwang, Wen Guey Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Heparin and heparan sulfate have recently been shown to bind to snake cardiotoxin (CTX) and to potentiate its penetration into phospholipid monolayer under physiological ionic conditions. Herein we analyze the heparin-binding domain of CTX using 10 CTXs from Taiwan and African cobra venom. We also performed computer modeling to obtain more information of the binding at molecular level. The results provide a molecular model for interaction of CTX-heparin complex where the cationic belt of the conserved residues on the concave surface of three finger β-sheet polypeptides initiates ionic interaction with heparin-like molecules followed by specific binding of Lys residues near the tip of loop 2 of CTX. The dissociation constants of CTXs differ by as much as 4 orders of magnitude, ranging from ≃ 140 μM for toxin γ to ≃ 20 nM for CTX M3, depending on the presence of Lys residues near the tip of loop 2. High affinity heparin binding becomes possible due to the presence of Arg-28, Lys-33, or the so-called consensus heparin binding sequence of XKKXXXKRX near the tip of the loop. The well defined three-finger loop structure of CTX provides an interesting template for the design of high affinity heparin-binding polypeptides with β-sheet structure. The finding that several cobra CTXs and phospholipase A2 bind to heparin with different affinity may provide information on the synergistic action of the two venom proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9661-9670
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number15
StatePublished - Apr 11 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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