Toxins2015, 7(2), 353-366; doi:10.3390/toxins7020353 (registering DOI) - published 30 January 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Freshwater harmful algal bloom (FHAB) toxins can cause morbidity and mortality in both humans and animals, and the incidence of FHABs in the United States and Kansas has increased. In 2010, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) developed a FHAB policy and response plan. We describe the epidemiology of FHAB-associated morbidity and mortality in humans and animals in Kansas. Healthcare providers and veterinarians voluntarily reported FHAB-associated cases to KDHE. An investigation was initiated for each report to determine the source of exposure and to initiate public health mitigation actions. There were 38 water bodies with a confirmed FHAB in 2011. There were 34 reports of human and animal FHAB-associated health events in 2011, which included five dog deaths and hospitalization of two human case patients. Five confirmed human illnesses, two dog illnesses and five dog deaths were associated with one lake. Four human and seven dog cases were exposed to the lake after a public health alert was issued. Public health officials and FHAB partners must ensure continued awareness of the risks to the public, educate healthcare providers and veterinarians on FHAB-related health events and encourage timely reporting to public health authorities.
Toxins2015, 7(2), 337-352; doi:10.3390/toxins7020337 (registering DOI) - published 30 January 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Microcystin-LR (MC-LR) has been detected extensively in the aquatic environment and has the potential to disturb the thyroid endocrine system. However, limited information is available on the effects of subacute MC-LR exposure on fish thyroid hormone (TH) metabolism. In the present study, juvenile zebrafish (Danio rerio) were exposed to MC-LR at environmentally relevant concentrations (0, 1, 5, and 25 μg/L) for 28 days. Whole-body TH content and thyroid follicle histology were used as direct endpoints to assess thyroid disruption. The activities of iodothyronine deiodinases (IDs) and the transcription of selected genes associated with TH synthesis were also investigated to study the underlying mechanisms of endocrine disruption. Exposure of zebrafish to MC-LR significantly increased whole-body thyroxine (T4) content but decreased whole-body triiodothyronine (T3) content. We also observed hypertrophy and hyperplasia of the thyroid follicle epithelial cells, as well as up-regulation of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), thyroid peroxidase (TPO), and transthyretin (TTR) genes. The decreases in ID1 and ID2 activities coupled with an increase in ID3 activity were observed in MC-LR treatment groups. These results demonstrate that exposure to MC-LR at environmental concentrations results in the disturbance of TH homeostasis by disrupting the synthesis and conversion of THs.
Abstract: A cluster of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has been previously described to border Lake Mascoma in Enfield, NH, with an incidence of ALS approximating 25 times expected. We hypothesize a possible association with cyanobacterial blooms that can produce β-N-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA), a neurotoxic amino acid implicated as a possible cause of ALS/PDC in Guam. Muscle, liver, and brain tissue samples from a Lake Mascoma carp, as well as filtered aerosol samples, were analyzed for microcystins (MC), free and protein-bound BMAA, and the BMAA isomers 2,4-diaminobutyric acid (DAB) and N-(2-aminoethyl)glycine (AEG). In carp brain, BMAA and DAB concentrations were 0.043 μg/g ± 0.02 SD and 0.01 μg/g ± 0.002 SD respectively. In carp liver and muscle, the BMAA concentrations were 1.28 μg/g and 1.27 μg/g respectively, and DAB was not detected. BMAA was detected in the air filters, as were the isomers DAB and AEG. These results demonstrate that a putative cause for ALS, BMAA, exists in an environment that has a documented cluster of ALS. Although cause and effect have not been demonstrated, our observations and measurements strengthen the association.
Abstract: Toxin/antitoxin (TA) systems are nearly universal in prokaryotes; toxins are paired with antitoxins which inactivate them until the toxins are utilized. Here we explore whether toxins may function alone; i.e., whether a toxin which lacks a corresponding antitoxin (orphan toxin) is physiologically relevant. By focusing on a homologous protein of the membrane-damaging toxin GhoT of the Escherichia coli GhoT/GhoS type V TA system, we found that YdcX (renamed OrtT for orphan toxin related to tetrahydrofolate) is toxic but is not part of TA pair. OrtT is not inactivated by neighboring YdcY (which is demonstrated to be a protein), nor is it inactivated by antitoxin GhoS. Also, OrtT is not inactivated by small RNA upstream or downstream of ortT. Moreover, screening a genomic library did not identify an antitoxin partner for OrtT. OrtT is a protein and its toxicity stems from membrane damage as evidenced by transmission electron microscopy and cell lysis. Furthermore, OrtT reduces cell growth and metabolism in the presence of both antimicrobials trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole; these antimicrobials induce the stringent response by inhibiting tetrahydrofolate synthesis. Therefore, we demonstrate that OrtT acts as an independent toxin to reduce growth during stress related to amino acid and DNA synthesis.
Abstract: Viruses employ an array of elaborate strategies to overcome plant defense mechanisms and must adapt to the requirements of the host translational systems. Pokeweed antiviral protein (PAP) from Phytolacca americana is a ribosome inactivating protein (RIP) and is an RNA N-glycosidase that removes specific purine residues from the sarcin/ricin (S/R) loop of large rRNA, arresting protein synthesis at the translocation step. PAP is thought to play an important role in the plant’s defense mechanism against foreign pathogens. This review focuses on the structure, function, and the relationship of PAP to other RIPs, discusses molecular aspects of PAP antiviral activity, the novel inhibition of this plant toxin by a virus counteraction—a peptide linked to the viral genome (VPg), and possible applications of RIP-conjugated immunotoxins in cancer therapeutics.
Abstract: Tetrodotoxin (TTX) is a potent neurotoxin found in the tissues of many taxonomically diverse organisms. Its origin has been the topic of much debate, with suggestions including endogenous production, acquisition through diet, and symbiotic bacterial synthesis. Bacterial production of TTX has been reported in isolates from marine biota, but at lower than expected concentrations. In this study, 102 strains were isolated from Pleurobranchaea maculata (Opisthobranchia) and Stylochoplana sp. (Platyhelminthes). Tetrodotoxin production was tested utilizing a recently developed sensitive method to detect the C9 base of TTX via liquid chromatography—mass spectrometry. Bacterial strains were characterized by sequencing a region of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene. To account for the possibility that TTX is produced by a consortium of bacteria, a series of experiments using marine broth spiked with various P. maculata tissues were undertaken. Sixteen unique strains from P. maculata and one from Stylochoplana sp. were isolated, representing eight different genera; Pseudomonadales, Actinomycetales, Oceanospirillales, Thiotrichales, Rhodobacterales, Sphingomonadales, Bacillales, and Vibrionales. Molecular fingerprinting of bacterial communities from broth experiments showed little change over the first four days. No C9 base or TTX was detected in isolates or broth experiments (past day 0), suggesting a culturable microbial source of TTX in P. maculata and Stylochoplana sp. is unlikely.