J Nat Prod 2014 Sep 17;77(9):2014-20. Epub 2014 Sep 17.
Center for Marine Science, University of North Carolina at Wilmington , Wilmington, North Carolina 28409, United States.
The marine dinoflagellate Karenia brevis produces a family of neurotoxins known as brevetoxins. Brevetoxins elicit their effects by binding to and activating voltage-sensitive sodium channels (VSSCs) in cell membranes. K. brevis also produces brevenal, a brevetoxin antagonist, which is able to inhibit and/or negate many of the detrimental effects of brevetoxins. Brevenal binding to VSSCs has yet to be fully characterized, in part due to the difficulty and expense of current techniques. In this study, we have developed a novel fluorescence binding assay for the brevenal binding site. Several fluorescent compounds were conjugated to brevenal to assess their effects on brevenal binding. The assay was validated against the radioligand assay for the brevenal binding site and yielded comparable equilibrium inhibition constants. The fluorescence-based assay was shown to be quicker and far less expensive and did not generate radioactive waste or need facilities for handling radioactive materials. In-depth studies using the brevenal conjugates showed that, while brevenal conjugates do bind to a binding site in the VSSC protein complex, they are not displaced by known VSSC site specific ligands. As such, brevenal elicits its action through a novel mechanism and/or currently unknown receptor site on VSSCs.