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The black widow's versatile venom


The structure of a tetrameric form of the spider neurotoxin, α-latrotoxin, has been determined by single particle cryo-electron microscopy. It reveals a pore complex with extended arms that could bind receptors involved in synaptic vesicle exocytosis.

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Figure 1: Schematic diagram of a synapse, with components of transmitter vesicle exocytosis.
Figure 2: Cryo-EM reconstruction of the latrotoxin tetramer in a, top and b, side view.
Figure 3: Model of the latrotoxin tetramer (cut open to reveal the channel) in the membrane bilayer.


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Saibil, H. The black widow's versatile venom. Nat Struct Mol Biol 7, 3–4 (2000).

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