Q: Do conjugated toxins (dermorphin-saporin in particular) exhibit agonist effects? I’ve generated behavioral and tissue time course effects but have not established agonist effects for this conjugated toxin.
A: The peptide ligand toxins should exhibit agonist effects. They are constructed purposely to retain complete agonist activity, including for us the most important: internalization. So, for instance, SP-SAP (Cat. #IT-07) causes receptor internalization similar to SP, as reported in Mantyh et al.
As to dermorphin-SAP (Cat. #IT-12) specifically, it has agonist activity very much like dermorphin. This is reported in Porreca et al. in which it’s stated:
The bilateral microinjection of 3 pmol of dermorphin or of dermorphin-saporin directly into the RVM produced a robust antinociceptive effect in the 52°C hot-water tail-flick test. The peak antinociceptive effect of dermorphin, 78 ± 13.2% MPE, was not significantly different from that of the dermorphin-saporin conjugate, which was 59 ± 4.7% MPE (p > 0.5, Student’s t test).
Usually the amount needed to give a response is lower than the amount needed to kill a cell. Depending on what your system is; it may be a peculiarity of that system, but I would be a little concerned about not seeing an agonist effect. On the other hand, if you have demonstration of specific toxicity, it may not be all that crucial.
See: Targeted Toxins