Download Conotoxin PDF


Natural Source

Neurotoxic venom naturally produced by the Conus genus of gastropod mollusks

Laboratory Source

Isolated toxin


Conotoxins are polypeptides comprised of 10-30 amino acids and stabilized by distinct patterns of disulfide bonds. Mechanisms of action for five conotoxins have been determined so far:

  • α-conotoxin: Acetylcholine nicotinic receptor inhibitor
  • μ-conotoxin: Voltage-gated sodium channel inhibitor
  • δ-conotoxin: Inhibitor of the inactivation of voltage-gated sodium channels
  • ω-conotoxin: N-type voltage-gated calcium channel inhibitor
  • κ-conotoxin: Potassium channel inhibitor

Health Hazards

Route of Entry

Inhalation, ingestion, absorption, and injection

Signs and Symptoms

General symptoms include severe pain to spreading numbness. Severe intoxication exhibits itself through muscle paralysis, blurred or double vision, difficulty breathing and/or swallowing, and respiratory or cardiovascular collapse.

Toxicity Dose DataLD50 = 5 μg/kg

Medical Precautions/Treatment


No rapid diagnostic assays are currently available


None available


None available


No antidote available. Administer supportive care (artificial respiration to support breathing).

Emory Requirements

Report all exposures immediately

Containment Requirements


Most manipulations of conotoxins


Large scale production of c or activities with a high potential for aerosol or droplet generation

Supplemental References


Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories

Essentials of Toxicology

Klaassen CD, Watkins JB. 2003. Casarett & Doull’s Essentials of Toxicology. New York (NY): McGraw-Hill.

Biological Safety: Principles & Practices

Flemming DO, Hunt DL. 2006. Biological Safety: Principles and Practices. 4th Edition. ASM Press.

Spill Procedures


Notify others working in the lab. Rinse gloves with decontamination solution and don new gloves. Cover area of the spill with paper towels and apply decontamination solution, working from the perimeter towards the center. Exit and keep others from entering the laboratory. Allow 1 hour of contact time before entering the laboratory without respiratory protection. Cleanup and dispose of spill materials.


For assistance, contact Emory’s Biosafety Officer (404-727-8863), or the EHSO Spill Team (404-727-2888)

Exposure Procedures

Mucous membrane

Flush eyes, mouth or nose for 15 minutes at eyewash station.

Other Exposures

Wash area with soap and water for 15 minutes.


Immediately report incident to supervisor, complete an employee incident report in PeopleSoft.

Medical Followup 

7am-4pm (OIM): EUH (404-686-7941) EUHM (404-686-7106) WW (404-728-6431)

After Hours: OIM NP On Call 404-686-5500 PIC# 50464

Needle Stick (OIM): EUH (404-686-8587) EUHM (404-686-2352)

Yerkes: Maureen Thompson Office (404-727-8012) Cell (404-275-0963)



Use a reactive disinfectant such as glutaraldehyde and formaldehyde.


Autoclaving is not an effective method of physical inactivation of conotoxins.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Minimum PPE Requirements

At minimum, personnel are required to don gloves, closed toed shoes, lab coat, and appropriate face and eye protection prior to working with conotoxin. Additional PPE may be required depending on lab specific SOPs.

Additional Precautions

Depending on the risk assessment, respirators may be required when working with conotoxins. Fit testing and training is required annually per Emory’s Respiratory Program (PDF)