Insect-active toxins with promiscuous pharmacology from the African theraphosid spider Monocentropus balfouri

Jennifer J. Smith, Volker Herzig, Maria P. Ikonomopoulou, Sławomir Dziemborowicz, Frank Bosmans, Graham M. Nicholson, Glenn F. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Many chemical insecticides are becoming less efficacious due to rising resistance in pest species, which has created much interest in the development of new, eco-friendly bioinsecticides. Since insects are the primary prey of most spiders, their venoms are a rich source of insect-active peptides that can be used as leads for new bioinsecticides or as tools to study molecular receptors that are insecticidal targets. In the present study, we isolated two insecticidal peptides, µ/ω-TRTX-Mb1a and -Mb1b, from venom of the African tarantula Monocentropus balfouri. Recombinant µ/ω-TRTX-Mb1a and -Mb1b paralyzed both Lucilia cuprina (Australian sheep blowfly) and Musca domestica (housefly), but neither peptide affected larvae of Helicoverpa armigera (cotton bollworms). Both peptides inhibited currents mediated by voltage-gated sodium (NaV) and calcium channels in Periplaneta americana (American cockroach) dorsal unpaired median neurons, and they also inhibited the cloned Blattella germanica (German cockroach) NaV channel (BgNaV1). An additional effect seen only with Mb1a on BgNaV1 was a delay in fast inactivation. Comparison of the NaV channel sequences of the tested insect species revealed that variations in the S1–S2 loops in the voltage sensor domains might underlie the differences in activity between different phyla.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number155
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2017


  • Calcium channel
  • Insecticide
  • Pharmacology
  • Sodium channel
  • Spider
  • Venom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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