Targeting KCa1.1 channels with a scorpion venom peptide for the therapy of rat models of rheumatoid arthritis

Mark R. Tanner, Michael W. Pennington, Brayden H. Chamberlain, Redwan Huq, Elizabeth J. Gehrmann, Teresina Laragione, Pércio S. Gulko, Christine Beeton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Fibroblast-like synoviocytes (FLSs) are a key cell type involved in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) progression. We previously identified the KCa1.1 potassium channel (Maxi-K, BK, Slo 1, KCNMA1) as a regulator of FLSs and found that KCa1.1 inhibition reduces disease severity in RA animal models. However, systemic KCa1.1 block causes multiple side effects. In this study, we aimed to determine whether the KCa1.1 b1-3–specific venom peptide blocker iberiotoxin (IbTX) reduces disease severity in animal models of RA without inducing major side effects. We used immunohistochemistry to identify IbTX-sensitive KCa1.1 subunits in joints of rats with a model of RA. Patch-clamp and functional assays were used to determine whether IbTX can regulate FLSs through targeting KCa1.1. We then tested the efficacy of IbTX in ameliorating disease in two rat models of RA. Finally, we determined whether IbTX causes side effects including incontinence or tremors in rats, compared with those treated with the small-molecule KCa1.1 blocker paxilline. IbTX-sensitive subunits of KCa1.1 were expressed by FLSs in joints of rats with experimental arthritis. IbTX inhibited KCa1.1 channels expressed by FLSs from patients with RA and by FLSs from rat models of RA and reduced FLS invasiveness. IbTX significantly reduced disease severity in two rat models of RA. Unlike paxilline, IbTX did not induce tremors or incontinence in rats. Overall, IbTX inhibited KCa1.1 channels on FLSs and treated rat models of RA without inducing side effects associated with nonspecific KCa1.1 blockade and could become the basis for the development of a new treatment of RA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-236
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2018


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