Professor Irina Vetter,
Institute for Molecular Bioscience and School of Pharmacy
University of Queensland 

Title: "The pain-causing principles of stinging nettles are sodium channel-targeting peptides"


Stinging nettles produce remarkably persistent and painful stings upon contact of their stiff epidermal hairs, called trichomes, with mammalian skin. In Australia, stings from the Gympie Gympie stinger (Dendrocnide spp.) induce acute pain typically lasting for several hours, as well as intermittent painful flares that can persist for days and weeks. Our recent work shows that the venoms of Australian Dendrocnide species as well as New Zealand Urtica species contain heretofore unknown pain-inducing peptides that potently activate sensory neurons and delay inactivation of voltage-gated sodium channels. These neurotoxins localize specifically to the stinging hairs and are disulfide-stabilised miniproteins, a characteristic shared with neurotoxins found in spider and cone snail venoms.  Our results provide an intriguing example of inter-kingdom convergent evolution of animal and plant venoms with shared modes of delivery, molecular structure and pharmacology.


About Neuroscience Seminars

Neuroscience seminars at the QBI play a major role in the advancement of neuroscience in the Asia-Pacific region. The primary goal of these seminars is to promote excellence in neuroscience through the exchange of ideas, establishing new collaborations and augmenting partnerships already in place.

Seminars in the QBI Auditorium on Level 7 are held on Wednesdays at 12-1pm, which are sometimes simulcast on Zoom (with approval from the speaker). We also occassionally hold seminars from international speakers via Zoom. The days and times of these seminars will vary depending on the time zone of the speaker. Please see each seminar listed below for details. 


Neuroscience Seminars archive 2005-2018