Toxins2014, 6(8), 2229-2238; doi:10.3390/toxins6082229 (doi registration under processing) - published online 25 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Thuringiensin (Thu), also known as β-exotoxin, is a thermostable secondary metabolite secreted by Bacillus thuringiensis. It has insecticidal activity against a wide range of insects, including species belonging to the orders Diptera, Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera, Orthoptera, and Isoptera, and several nematode species. The chemical formula of Thu is C22H32O19N5P, and it is composed of adenosine, glucose, phosphoric acid, and gluconic diacid. In contrast to the more frequently studied insecticidal crystal protein, Thu is not a protein but a small molecule oligosaccharide. In this review, a detailed and updated description of the characteristics, structure, insecticidal mechanism, separation and purification technology, and genetic determinants of Thu is provided.
Toxins2014, 6(8), 2210-2228; doi:10.3390/toxins6082210 (doi registration under processing) - published online 25 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Our previous findings have demonstrated that bee venom (BV) has anti-cancer activity in several cancer cells. However, the effects of BV on lung cancer cell growth have not been reported.Cell viability was determined with trypan blue uptake, soft agar formation as well as DAPI and TUNEL assay. Cell death related protein expression was determined with Western blotting. An EMSA was used for nuclear factor kappaB (NF-κB) activity assay. BV (1–5 μg/mL) inhibited growth of lung cancer cells by induction of apoptosis in a dose dependent manner in lung cancer cell lines A549 and NCI-H460. Consistent with apoptotic cell death, expression of DR3 and DR6 was significantly increased. However, deletion of DRs by small interfering RNA significantly reversed BV induced cell growth inhibitory effects. Expression of pro-apoptotic proteins (caspase-3 and Bax) was concomitantly increased, but the NF-κB activity and expression of Bcl-2 were inhibited. A combination treatment of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-like weak inducer of apoptosis, TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand, docetaxel and cisplatin, with BV synergistically inhibited both A549 and NCI-H460 lung cancer cell growth with further down regulation of NF-κB activity. These results show that BV induces apoptotic cell death in lung cancer cells through the enhancement of DR3 expression and inhibition of NF-κB pathway.
Toxins2014, 6(7), 2194-2209; doi:10.3390/toxins6072194 - published online 23 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Bacillus thuringiensis differs from the closely related Bacillus cereus group species by its ability to produce crystalline inclusions. The production of these crystals mainly results from the expression of the cry genes, from the stability of their transcripts and from the synthesis, accumulation and crystallization of large amounts of insecticidal Cry proteins. This process normally coincides with sporulation and is regulated by various factors operating at the transcriptional, post-transcriptional, metabolic and post-translational levels.
Toxins2014, 6(7), 2177-2193; doi:10.3390/toxins6072177 - published online 23 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Voltage-gated sodium channels (VGSCs; NaV1.1–NaV1.9) have been proven to be critical in controlling the function of excitable cells, and human genetic evidence shows that aberrant function of these channels causes channelopathies, including epilepsy, arrhythmia, paralytic myotonia, and pain. The effects of peptide toxins, especially those isolated from spider venom, have shed light on the structure–function relationship of these channels. However, most of these toxins have not been analyzed in detail. In particular, the bioactive faces of these toxins have not been determined. Jingzhaotoxin (JZTX)-V (also known as β-theraphotoxin-Cj2a) is a 29-amino acid peptide toxin isolated from the venom of the spider Chilobrachys jingzhao.JZTX-V adopts an inhibitory cysteine knot (ICK) motif and has an inhibitory effect on voltage-gated sodium and potassium channels. Previous experiments have shown that JZTX-V has an inhibitory effect on TTX-S and TTX-R sodium currents on rat DRG cells with IC50 values of 27.6 and 30.2 nM, respectively, and is able to shift the activation and inactivation curves to the depolarizing and the hyperpolarizing direction, respectively. Here, we show that JZTX-V has a much stronger inhibitory effect on NaV1.4, the isoform of voltage-gated sodium channels predominantly expressed in skeletal muscle cells, with an IC50 value of 5.12 nM, compared with IC50 values of 61.7–2700 nM for other heterologously expressed NaV1 subtypes. Furthermore, we investigated the bioactive surface of JZTX-V by alanine-scanning the effect of toxin on NaV1.4 and demonstrate that the bioactive face of JZTX-V is composed of three hydrophobic (W5, M6, and W7) and two cationic (R20 and K22) residues. Our results establish that, consistent with previous assumptions, JZTX-V is a Janus-faced toxin which may be a useful tool for the further investigation of the structure and function of sodium channels.
Toxins2014, 6(7), 2162-2176; doi:10.3390/toxins6072162 - published online 22 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Toxin A (TcdA) and B (TcdB) from Clostridium difficile enter host cells by receptor-mediated endocytosis. A prerequisite for proper toxin action is the intracellular release of the glucosyltransferase domain by an inherent cysteine protease, which is allosterically activated by inositol hexaphosphate (IP6). We found that in in vitro assays, the C-terminally-truncated TcdA1–1065 was more efficient at IP6-induced cleavage compared with full-length TcdA. We hypothesized that the C-terminally-located combined repetitive oligopeptides (CROPs) interact with the N-terminal part of the toxin, thereby preventing autoproteolysis. Glutathione-S-transferase (GST) pull-down assays and microscale thermophoresis confirmed binding between the CROPs and the glucosyltransferase (TcdA1–542) or intermediate (TcdA1102–1847) domain of TcdA, respectively. This interaction between the N- and C-terminus was not found for TcdB. Functional assays revealed that TcdB was more susceptible to inactivation by extracellular IP6-induced cleavage. In vitro autoprocessing and inactivation of TcdA, however, significantly increased, either by acidification of the surrounding milieu or following exchange of its CROP domain by the homologous CROP domain of TcdB. Thus, TcdA CROPs contribute to the stabilization and protection of toxin conformation in addition to function as the main receptor binding domain.
Toxins2014, 6(7), 2149-2161; doi:10.3390/toxins6072149 - published online 22 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations are used to examine the binding modes of two scorpion toxins, margatoxin (MgTx) and hongotoxin (HgTx), to the voltage gated K+ channel, Kv1.3. Using steered MD simulations, we insert either Lys28 or Lys35 of the toxins into the selectivity filter of the channel. The MgTx-Kv1.3 complex is stable when the side chain of Lys35 from the toxin occludes the channel filter, suggesting that Lys35 is the pore-blocking residue for Kv1.3. In this complex, Lys28 of the toxin forms one additional salt bridge with Asp449 just outside the filter of the channel. On the other hand, HgTx forms a stable complex with Kv1.3 when the side chain of Lys28 but not Lys35 protrudes into the filter of the channel. A survey of all the possible favorable binding modes of HgTx-Kv1.3 is carried out by rotating the toxin at 3° intervals around the channel axis while the position of HgTx-Lys28 relative to the filter is maintained. We identify two possible favorable binding modes: HgTx-Arg24 can interact with either Asp433 or Glu420 on the vestibular wall of the channel. The dissociation constants calculated from the two binding modes of HgTx-Kv1.3 differ by approximately 20 fold, suggesting that the two modes are of similar energetics.