Open AccessArticle
Survey on Urinary Levels of Aflatoxins in Professionally Exposed Workers
Toxins 2017, 9(4), 117; doi:10.3390/toxins9040117 -
Abstract
Feed mill workers may handle or process maize contaminated with aflatoxins (AFs). This condition may lead to an unacceptable intake of toxins deriving from occupational exposure. This study assessed the serological and urinary levels of AFs in workers exposed to potentially contaminated dusts
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Feed mill workers may handle or process maize contaminated with aflatoxins (AFs). This condition may lead to an unacceptable intake of toxins deriving from occupational exposure. This study assessed the serological and urinary levels of AFs in workers exposed to potentially contaminated dusts in two mills. From March to April 2014, blood and urine samples were collected, on Monday and Friday morning of the same working week from 29 exposed workers and 30 non-exposed controls. AFs (M1, G2, G1, B1, B2) and aflatoxicol (AFOH) A were analyzed. Each subject filled in a questionnaire to evaluate potential food-borne exposures to mycotoxins. AFs contamination in environmental dust was measured in both plants. No serum sample was found to be positive. Seventy four percent of urine samples (73.7%) revealed AFM1 presence. AFM1 mean concentration was 0.035 and 0.027 ng/mL in exposed and non-exposed workers, respectively (p = 0.432); the concentration was slightly higher in Friday’s than in Monday’s samples, in exposed workers, 0.040 versus (vs.) 0.031 and non-exposed controls (0.030 vs. 0.024, p = 0.437). Environmental AFs contamination ranged from 7.2 to 125.4 µg/kg. The findings of this study reveal the presence of higher AFs concentration in exposed workers than in non-exposed controls, although these differences are to be considered consistent with random fluctuations. Full article
Open AccessReview
Mycotoxin Biotransformation by Native and Commercial Enzymes: Present and Future Perspectives
Toxins 2017, 9(4), 111; doi:10.3390/toxins9040111 -
Abstract
Worldwide mycotoxins contamination has a significant impact on animal and human health, and leads to economic losses accounted for billions of dollars annually. Since the application of pre- and post- harvest strategies, including chemical or physical removal, are not sufficiently effective, biological transformation
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Worldwide mycotoxins contamination has a significant impact on animal and human health, and leads to economic losses accounted for billions of dollars annually. Since the application of pre- and post- harvest strategies, including chemical or physical removal, are not sufficiently effective, biological transformation is considered the most promising yet challenging approach to reduce mycotoxins accumulation. Although several microorganisms were reported to degrade mycotoxins, only a few enzymes have been identified, purified and characterized for this activity. This review focuses on the biotransformation of mycotoxins performed with purified enzymes isolated from bacteria, fungi and plants, whose activity was validated in in vitro and in vivo assays, including patented ones and commercial preparations. Furthermore, we will present some applications for detoxifying enzymes in food, feed, biogas and biofuel industries, describing their limitation and potentialities. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Type IV Secretion and Signal Transduction of Helicobacter pylori CagA through Interactions with Host Cell Receptors
Toxins 2017, 9(4), 115; doi:10.3390/toxins9040115 -
Abstract
Helicobacter pylori is a highly successful human bacterium, which is exceptionally equipped to persistently inhabit the human stomach. Colonization by this pathogen is associated with gastric disorders ranging from chronic gastritis and peptic ulcers to cancer. Highly virulent H. pylori strains express the
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Helicobacter pylori is a highly successful human bacterium, which is exceptionally equipped to persistently inhabit the human stomach. Colonization by this pathogen is associated with gastric disorders ranging from chronic gastritis and peptic ulcers to cancer. Highly virulent H. pylori strains express the well-established adhesins BabA/B, SabA, AlpA/B, OipA, and HopQ, and a type IV secretion system (T4SS) encoded by the cag pathogenicity island (PAI). The adhesins ascertain intimate bacterial contact to gastric epithelial cells, while the T4SS represents an extracellular pilus-like structure for the translocation of the effector protein CagA. Numerous T4SS components including CagI, CagL, CagY, and CagA have been shown to target the integrin-β1 receptor followed by translocation of CagA across the host cell membrane. The interaction of CagA with membrane-anchored phosphatidylserine and CagA-containing outer membrane vesicles may also play a role in the delivery process. Translocated CagA undergoes tyrosine phosphorylation in C-terminal EPIYA-repeat motifs by oncogenic Src and Abl kinases. CagA then interacts with an array of host signaling proteins followed by their activation or inactivation in phosphorylation-dependent and phosphorylation-independent fashions. We now count about 25 host cell binding partners of intracellular CagA, which represent the highest quantity of all currently known virulence-associated effector proteins in the microbial world. Here we review the research progress in characterizing interactions of CagA with multiple host cell receptors in the gastric epithelium, including integrin-β1, EGFR, c-Met, CD44, E-cadherin, and gp130. The contribution of these interactions to H. pylori colonization, signal transduction, and gastric pathogenesis is discussed. Full article
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Open AccessReview
A Review: Epigenetic Mechanism in Ochratoxin A Toxicity Studies
Toxins 2017, 9(4), 113; doi:10.3390/toxins9040113 -
Abstract
Ochratoxin A (OTA) is a natural contaminant that has displayed nephrotoxicity and hepatotoxicity in mammals. It contaminates a great variety of foodstuffs and threatens people’s lives. The molecular mechanism of OTA-induced toxicity has been studied since 1965. Moreover, epigenetic mechanisms are also studied
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Ochratoxin A (OTA) is a natural contaminant that has displayed nephrotoxicity and hepatotoxicity in mammals. It contaminates a great variety of foodstuffs and threatens people’s lives. The molecular mechanism of OTA-induced toxicity has been studied since 1965. Moreover, epigenetic mechanisms are also studied in OTA-induced toxicity. Additionally, the mode of OTA epigenetic research has been advanced in research hotspots. However, there is still no epigenetic study of OTA-induced toxicity. In this review, we discuss the relationship between these epigenetic mechanisms and OTA-induced toxicity. We found that studies on the epigenetic mechanisms of OTA-induced toxicity all chose the whole kidney or liver as the model, which cannot reveal the real change in DNA methylation or miRNAs or histone in the target sites of OTA. Our recommendations are as follows: (1) the specific target site of OTA should be detected by advanced technologies; and (2) competing endogenous RNAs (ceRNA) should be explored with OTA. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
The Biology of Pichia membranifaciens Killer Toxins
Toxins 2017, 9(4), 112; doi:10.3390/toxins9040112 -
Abstract
The killer phenomenon is defined as the ability of some yeast to secrete toxins that are lethal to other sensitive yeasts and filamentous fungi. Since the discovery of strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae capable of secreting killer toxins, much information has been gained regarding
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The killer phenomenon is defined as the ability of some yeast to secrete toxins that are lethal to other sensitive yeasts and filamentous fungi. Since the discovery of strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae capable of secreting killer toxins, much information has been gained regarding killer toxins and this fact has substantially contributed knowledge on fundamental aspects of cell biology and yeast genetics. The killer phenomenon has been studied in Pichia membranifaciens for several years, during which two toxins have been described. PMKT and PMKT2 are proteins of low molecular mass that bind to primary receptors located in the cell wall structure of sensitive yeast cells, linear (1→6)-β-d-glucans and mannoproteins for PMKT and PMKT2, respectively. Cwp2p also acts as a secondary receptor for PMKT. Killing of sensitive cells by PMKT is characterized by ionic movements across plasma membrane and an acidification of the intracellular pH triggering an activation of the High Osmolarity Glycerol (HOG) pathway. On the contrary, our investigations showed a mechanism of killing in which cells are arrested at an early S-phase by high concentrations of PMKT2. However, we concluded that induced mortality at low PMKT2 doses and also PMKT is indeed of an apoptotic nature. Killer yeasts and their toxins have found potential applications in several fields: in food and beverage production, as biocontrol agents, in yeast bio-typing, and as novel antimycotic agents. Accordingly, several applications have been found for P. membranifaciens killer toxins, ranging from pre- and post-harvest biocontrol of plant pathogens to applications during wine fermentation and ageing (inhibition of Botrytis cinerea, Brettanomyces bruxellensis, etc.). Full article
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Open AccessReview
Inflammatory Cytokines as Uremic Toxins: “Ni Son Todos Los Que Estan, Ni Estan Todos Los Que Son”
Toxins 2017, 9(4), 114; doi:10.3390/toxins9040114 -
Abstract
Chronic kidney disease is among the fastest growing causes of death worldwide. An increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular death is thought to depend on the accumulation of uremic toxins when glomerular filtration rate falls. In addition, the circulating levels of several markers
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Chronic kidney disease is among the fastest growing causes of death worldwide. An increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular death is thought to depend on the accumulation of uremic toxins when glomerular filtration rate falls. In addition, the circulating levels of several markers of inflammation predict mortality in patients with chronic kidney disease. Indeed, a number of cytokines are listed in databases of uremic toxins and uremic retention solutes. They include inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-18, IL-6, TNFα), chemokines (IL-8), and adipokines (adiponectin, leptin and resistin), as well as anti-inflammatory cytokines (IL-10). We now critically review the cytokines that may be considered uremic toxins. We discuss the rationale to consider them uremic toxins (mechanisms underlying the increased serum levels and evidence supporting their contribution to CKD manifestations), identify gaps in knowledge, discuss potential therapeutic implications to be tested in clinical trials in order to make this knowledge useful for the practicing physician, and identify additional cytokines, cytokine receptors and chemokines that may fulfill the criteria to be considered uremic toxins, such as sIL-6R, sTNFR1, sTNFR2, IL-2, CXCL12, CX3CL1 and others. In addition, we suggest that IL-10, leptin, adiponectin and resistin should not be considered uremic toxins toxins based on insufficient or contradictory evidence of an association with adverse outcomes in humans or preclinical data not consistent with a causal association. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Preparation and Identification of a Monoclonal Antibody against Citrinin and the Development of Detection via Indirect Competitive ELISA
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 110; doi:10.3390/toxins9030110 -
Abstract
Citrinin (CTN) is a hepato-nephrotoxic mycotoxin produced by fungi genera of Aspergillus, Monauscus, and Penicillium. CTN contaminates grains, fruits, juices and vegetables, and causes various toxic effects to humans and animals. It has small molecular weight, which is non-immunogenic to animals.
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Citrinin (CTN) is a hepato-nephrotoxic mycotoxin produced by fungi genera of Aspergillus, Monauscus, and Penicillium. CTN contaminates grains, fruits, juices and vegetables, and causes various toxic effects to humans and animals. It has small molecular weight, which is non-immunogenic to animals. Thus, CTN was conjugated to bovine serum albumin (BSA) and ovalbumin (OVA), respectively, by amide bonds using 1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl) carbodiimide hydrochloride (EDC) and N-hydroxysuccinimide (NHS). Mice were immunized with CTN-BSA conjugates, and spleen cells of the immunized mice were fused with Sp2/0 myeloma cells to obtain 21H27 hybriodoma cell. Ascitic fluid of hybridoma cell was produced in mice abdomen, and purified using caprylic/ammonium sulfate precipitation method. The 21H27 anti-CTN mcAb was the IgG2a antibody subclass, and cross-reactivity results indicated that anti-CTN mcAb is specific to CTN with high affinity (2.0 × 108 L/mol). Indirect competitive ELISA (ic-ELISA) results showed that the linear range of detection was 0.01–5.96 ng/mL and the IC50 was 0.28 ng/mL with a lower detection limit (LOD) of 0.01 ng/mL. The average recovery was 93.8% ± 1.6% with a coefficient variation of 1.0%–4.3%. Hence, anti-CTN mcAb secreted by 21H27 hybridoma cell was successfully produced and can be used to detect CTN contaminated feed and foodstuffs. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Consumption of Bt Maize Pollen Containing Cry1Ie Does Not Negatively Affect Propylea japonica (Thunberg) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae)
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 108; doi:10.3390/toxins9030108 -
Abstract
Propylea japonica (Thunberg) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) are prevalent predators and pollen feeders in East Asian maize fields. They are therefore indirectly (via prey) and directly (via pollen) exposed to Cry proteins within Bt-transgenic maize fields. The effects of Cry1Ie-producing transgenic maize pollen on
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Propylea japonica (Thunberg) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) are prevalent predators and pollen feeders in East Asian maize fields. They are therefore indirectly (via prey) and directly (via pollen) exposed to Cry proteins within Bt-transgenic maize fields. The effects of Cry1Ie-producing transgenic maize pollen on the fitness of P. japonica was assessed using two dietary-exposure experiments in the laboratory. In the first experiment, survival, larval developmental time, adult fresh weight, and fecundity did not differ between ladybirds consuming Bt or non-Bt maize pollen. In the second experiment, none of the tested lethal and sublethal parameters of P. japonica were negatively affected when fed a rapeseed pollen-based diet containing Cry1Ie protein at 200 μg/g dry weight of diet. In contrast, the larval developmental time, adult fresh weight, and fecundity of P. japonica were significantly adversely affected when fed diet containing the positive control compound E-64. In both experiments, the bioactivity of the Cry1Ie protein in the food sources was confirmed by bioassays with a Cry1Ie-sensitive lepidopteran species. These results indicated that P. japonica are not affected by the consumption of Cry1Ie-expressing maize pollen and are not sensitive to the Cry1Ie protein, suggesting that the growing of Bt maize expressing Cry1Ie protein will pose a negligible risk to P. japonica. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Functional Contributions of Positive Charges in the Pore-Lining Helix 3 of the Bordetella pertussis CyaA-Hemolysin to Hemolytic Activity and Ion-Channel Opening
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 109; doi:10.3390/toxins9030109 -
Abstract
The Bordetella pertussis CyaA-hemolysin (CyaA-Hly) domain was previously demonstrated to be an important determinant for hemolysis against target erythrocytes and ion-channel formation in planar lipid bilayers (PLBs). Here, net-charge variations in the pore-lining helix of thirteen related RTX cytolysins including CyaA-Hly were revealed
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The Bordetella pertussis CyaA-hemolysin (CyaA-Hly) domain was previously demonstrated to be an important determinant for hemolysis against target erythrocytes and ion-channel formation in planar lipid bilayers (PLBs). Here, net-charge variations in the pore-lining helix of thirteen related RTX cytolysins including CyaA-Hly were revealed by amino acid sequence alignments, reflecting their different degrees of hemolytic activity. To analyze possible functional effects of net-charge alterations on hemolytic activity and channel formation of CyaA-Hly, specific mutations were made at Gln574 or Glu581 in its pore-lining α3 of which both residues are highly conserved Lys in the three highly active RTX cytolysins (i.e., Escherichia coli α-hemolysin, Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae toxin, and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans leukotoxin). All six constructed CyaA-Hly mutants that were over-expressed in E. coli as 126 kDa His-tagged soluble proteins were successfully purified via immobilized Ni2+-affinity chromatography. Both positive-charge substitutions (Q574K, Q574R, E581K, E581R) and negative-charge elimination (E581Q) appeared to increase the kinetics of toxin-induced hemolysis while the substitution with a negatively-charged side-chain (Q574E) completely abolished its hemolytic activity. When incorporated into PLBs under symmetrical conditions (1.0 M KCl, pH 7.4), all five mutant toxins with the increased hemolytic activity produced clearly-resolved single channels with higher open probability and longer lifetime than the wild-type toxin, albeit with a half decrease in their maximum conductance. Molecular dynamics simulations for 50 ns of a trimeric CyaA-Hly pore model comprising three α2-loop-α3 transmembrane hairpins revealed a significant role of the positive charge at both target positions in the structural stability and enlarged diameter of the simulated pore. Altogether, our present data have disclosed functional contributions of positively-charged side-chains substituted at positions Gln574 and Glu581 in the pore-lining α3 to the enhanced hemolytic activity and ion-channel opening of CyaA-Hly that actually mimics the highly-active RTX (repeat-in-toxin) cytolysins. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Simultaneous Determination of Multi-Mycotoxins in Cereal Grains Collected from South Korea by LC/MS/MS
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 106; doi:10.3390/toxins9030106 -
Abstract
An improved analytical method compared with conventional ones was developed for simultaneous determination of 13 mycotoxins (deoxynivalenol, nivalenol, 3-acetylnivalenol, aflatoxin B1, aflatoxin B2, aflatoxin G1, aflatoxin G2, fumonisin B1, fumonisin B2,
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An improved analytical method compared with conventional ones was developed for simultaneous determination of 13 mycotoxins (deoxynivalenol, nivalenol, 3-acetylnivalenol, aflatoxin B1, aflatoxin B2, aflatoxin G1, aflatoxin G2, fumonisin B1, fumonisin B2, T-2, HT-2, zearalenone, and ochratoxin A) in cereal grains by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) after a single immunoaffinity column clean-up. The method showed a good linearity, sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy in mycotoxin determination by LC/MS/MS. The levels of 13 mycotoxins in 5 types of commercial grains (brown rice, maize, millet, sorghum, and mixed cereal) from South Korea were determined in a total of 507 cereal grains. Mycotoxins produced from Fusarium sp. (fumonisins, deoxynivalenol, nivalenol, and zearalenone) were more frequently (more than 5%) and concurrently detected in all cereal grains along with higher mean levels (4.3–161.0 ng/g) in positive samples than other toxins such as aflatoxins and ochratoxin A (less than 9% and below 5.2 ng/g in positive samples) from other fungal species. Full article
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Open AccessReview
The Molecular Basis of Toxins’ Interactions with Intracellular Signaling via Discrete Portals
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 107; doi:10.3390/toxins9030107 -
Abstract
An understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which microbial, plant or animal-secreted toxins exert their action provides the most important element for assessment of human health risks and opens new insights into therapies addressing a plethora of pathologies, ranging from neurological disorders to
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An understanding of the molecular mechanisms by which microbial, plant or animal-secreted toxins exert their action provides the most important element for assessment of human health risks and opens new insights into therapies addressing a plethora of pathologies, ranging from neurological disorders to cancer, using toxinomimetic agents. Recently, molecular and cellular biology dissecting tools have provided a wealth of information on the action of these diverse toxins, yet, an integrated framework to explain their selective toxicity is still lacking. In this review, specific examples of different toxins are emphasized to illustrate the fundamental mechanisms of toxicity at different biochemical, molecular and cellular- levels with particular consideration for the nervous system. The target of primary action has been highlighted and operationally classified into 13 sub-categories. Selected examples of toxins were assigned to each target category, denominated as portal, and the modulation of the different portal’s signaling was featured. The first portal encompasses the plasma membrane lipid domains, which give rise to pores when challenged for example with pardaxin, a fish toxin, or is subject to degradation when enzymes of lipid metabolism such as phospholipases A2 (PLA2) or phospholipase C (PLC) act upon it. Several major portals consist of ion channels, pumps, transporters and ligand gated ionotropic receptors which many toxins act on, disturbing the intracellular ion homeostasis. Another group of portals consists of G-protein-coupled and tyrosine kinase receptors that, upon interaction with discrete toxins, alter second messengers towards pathological levels. Lastly, subcellular organelles such as mitochondria, nucleus, protein- and RNA-synthesis machineries, cytoskeletal networks and exocytic vesicles are also portals targeted and deregulated by other diverse group of toxins. A fundamental concept can be drawn from these seemingly different toxins with respect to the site of action and the secondary messengers and signaling cascades they trigger in the host. While the interaction with the initial portal is largely determined by the chemical nature of the toxin, once inside the cell, several ubiquitous second messengers and protein kinases/ phosphatases pathways are impaired, to attain toxicity. Therefore, toxins represent one of the most promising natural molecules for developing novel therapeutics that selectively target the major cellular portals involved in human physiology and diseases. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Cubozoan Sting-Site Seawater Rinse, Scraping, and Ice Can Increase Venom Load: Upending Current First Aid Recommendations
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 105; doi:10.3390/toxins9030105 -
Abstract
Cnidarian envenomations are the leading cause of severe and lethal human sting injuries from marine life. The total amount of venom discharged into sting-site tissues, sometimes referred to as “venom load”, has been previously shown to correlate with tentacle contact length and sequelae
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Cnidarian envenomations are the leading cause of severe and lethal human sting injuries from marine life. The total amount of venom discharged into sting-site tissues, sometimes referred to as “venom load”, has been previously shown to correlate with tentacle contact length and sequelae severity. Since <1% of cnidae discharge upon initial tentacle contact, effective and safe removal of adherent tentacles is of paramount importance in the management of life-threatening cubozoan stings. We evaluated whether common rinse solutions or scraping increased venom load as measured in a direct functional assay of venom activity (hemolysis). Scraping significantly increased hemolysis by increasing cnidae discharge. For Alatina alata, increases did not occur if the tentacles were first doused with vinegar or if heat was applied. However, in Chironex fleckeri, vinegar dousing and heat treatment were less effective, and the best outcomes occurred with the use of venom-inhibiting technologies (Sting No More® products). Seawater rinsing, considered a “no-harm” alternative, significantly increased venom load. The application of ice severely exacerbated A. alata stings, but had a less pronounced effect on C. fleckeri stings, while heat application markedly reduced hemolysis for both species. Our results do not support scraping or seawater rinsing to remove adherent tentacles. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Ameliorative Effects of Neutral Electrolyzed Water on Growth Performance, Biochemical Constituents, and Histopathological Changes in Turkey Poults during Aflatoxicosis
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 104; doi:10.3390/toxins9030104 -
Abstract
Different in vitro and in silico approaches from our research group have demonstrated that neutral electrolyzed water (NEW) can be used to detoxify aflatoxins. The objective of this investigation was to evaluate the ability of NEW to detoxify B-aflatoxins (AFB1 and AFB
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Different in vitro and in silico approaches from our research group have demonstrated that neutral electrolyzed water (NEW) can be used to detoxify aflatoxins. The objective of this investigation was to evaluate the ability of NEW to detoxify B-aflatoxins (AFB1 and AFB2) in contaminated maize and to confirm detoxification in an in vivo experimental model. Batches of aflatoxin-contaminated maize were detoxified with NEW and mixed in commercial feed. A total of 240 6-day-old female large white Nicholas-700 turkey poults were randomly divided into four treatments of six replicates each (10 turkeys per replicate), which were fed ad libitum for two weeks with the following dietary treatments: (1) control feed containing aflatoxin-free maize (CONTROL); (2) feed containing the aflatoxin-contaminated maize (AF); (3) feed containing the aflatoxin-contaminated maize detoxified with NEW (AF + NEW); and (4) control feed containing aflatoxin-free maize treated with NEW (NEW). Compared to the control groups, turkey poults of the AF group significantly reduced body weight gain and increased feed conversion ratio and mortality rate; whereas turkey poults of the AF + NEW group did not present significant differences on productive parameters. In addition, alterations in serum biochemical constituents, enzyme activities, relative organ weight, gross morphological changes and histopathological studies were significantly mitigated by the aflatoxin-detoxification procedure. From these results, it is concluded that the treatment of aflatoxin-contaminated maize with NEW provided reasonable protection against the effects caused by aflatoxins in young turkey poults. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
How the Cobra Got Its Flesh-Eating Venom: Cytotoxicity as a Defensive Innovation and Its Co-Evolution with Hooding, Aposematic Marking, and Spitting
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 103; doi:10.3390/toxins9030103 -
Abstract
The cytotoxicity of the venom of 25 species of Old World elapid snake was tested and compared with the morphological and behavioural adaptations of hooding and spitting. We determined that, contrary to previous assumptions, the venoms of spitting species are not consistently more
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The cytotoxicity of the venom of 25 species of Old World elapid snake was tested and compared with the morphological and behavioural adaptations of hooding and spitting. We determined that, contrary to previous assumptions, the venoms of spitting species are not consistently more cytotoxic than those of closely related non-spitting species. While this correlation between spitting and non-spitting was found among African cobras, it was not present among Asian cobras. On the other hand, a consistent positive correlation was observed between cytotoxicity and utilisation of the defensive hooding display that cobras are famous for. Hooding and spitting are widely regarded as defensive adaptations, but it has hitherto been uncertain whether cytotoxicity serves a defensive purpose or is somehow useful in prey subjugation. The results of this study suggest that cytotoxicity evolved primarily as a defensive innovation and that it has co-evolved twice alongside hooding behavior: once in the Hemachatus + Naja and again independently in the king cobras (Ophiophagus). There was a significant increase of cytotoxicity in the Asian Naja linked to the evolution of bold aposematic hood markings, reinforcing the link between hooding and the evolution of defensive cytotoxic venoms. In parallel, lineages with increased cytotoxicity but lacking bold hood patterns evolved aposematic markers in the form of high contrast body banding. The results also indicate that, secondary to the evolution of venom rich in cytotoxins, spitting has evolved three times independently: once within the African Naja, once within the Asian Naja, and once in the Hemachatus genus. The evolution of cytotoxic venom thus appears to facilitate the evolution of defensive spitting behaviour. In contrast, a secondary loss of cytotoxicity and reduction of the hood occurred in the water cobra Naja annulata, which possesses streamlined neurotoxic venom similar to that of other aquatic elapid snakes (e.g., hydrophiine sea snakes). The results of this study make an important contribution to our growing understanding of the selection pressures shaping the evolution of snake venom and its constituent toxins. The data also aid in elucidating the relationship between these selection pressures and the medical impact of human snakebite in the developing world, as cytotoxic cobras cause considerable morbidity including loss-of-function injuries that result in economic and social burdens in the tropics of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Characteristics and Lethality of a Novel Recombinant  Dermonecrotic Venom Phospholipase D from  Hemiscorpius lepturus
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 102; doi:10.3390/toxins9030102 -
Abstract
Hemoscorpius lepturus is the most medically important scorpion in Iran. The clinical signs of H. lepturus envenomation are remarkably similar to those reported for brown spiders, including dermonecrosis, hematuria, renal failure and even death. The lethality and toxicity of brown spiders’ venom have
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Hemoscorpius lepturus is the most medically important scorpion in Iran. The clinical signs of H. lepturus envenomation are remarkably similar to those reported for brown spiders, including dermonecrosis, hematuria, renal failure and even death. The lethality and toxicity of brown spiders’ venom have been attributed to its phospholipase D activity. This study aims to identify a phospholipase D with possible lethality and dermonecrotic activity in H. lepturus venom. In this study, a cDNA library of the venom glands was generated by Illumina RNA sequencing. Phospholipase D (PLD) from H. lepturus was characterized according to its significant similarity with PLDs from brown spiders. The main chain designated as Hl‐RecPLD1 (the first recombinant isoform of H. lepturus PLD) was cloned, expressed and purified. Sphingomyelinase, dermonecrotic and lethal activities were examined. Hl‐PLD1 showed remarkable sequence similarity and structural homology with PLDs of brown spiders. The conformation of Hl‐PLD1 was predicted as a “TIM beta/alpha‐barrel”. The lethal dose 50 (LD50) and dermonecrotic activities of Hl‐RecPLD1 were determined as 3.1 μg/mouse and 0.7 cm2 at 1 μg respectively. It is the first report indicating that a similar molecular evolutionary mechanism has occurred in both American brown spiders and this Iranian scorpion. In conclusion, Hl‐RecPLD1 is a highly active phospholipase D, which would be considered as the lethal dermonecrotic toxin in H. lepturus venom. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Nitrate Increased Cucumber Tolerance to Fusarium Wilt by Regulating Fungal Toxin Production and Distribution
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 100; doi:10.3390/toxins9030100 -
Abstract
Cucumber Fusarium wilt, induced by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cucumerinum (FOC), causes severe losses in cucumber yield and quality. Nitrogen (N), as the most important mineral nutrient for plants, plays a critical role in plant–pathogen interactions. Hydroponic assays were conducted to investigate the
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Cucumber Fusarium wilt, induced by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cucumerinum (FOC), causes severe losses in cucumber yield and quality. Nitrogen (N), as the most important mineral nutrient for plants, plays a critical role in plant–pathogen interactions. Hydroponic assays were conducted to investigate the effects of different N forms (NH4+ vs. NO3) and supply levels (low, 1 mM; high, 5 mM) on cucumber Fusarium wilt. The NO3-fed cucumber plants were more tolerant to Fusarium wilt compared with NH4+-fed plants, and accompanied by lower leaf temperature after FOC infection. The disease index decreased as the NO3 supply increased but increased with the NH4+ level supplied. Although the FOC grew better under high NO3 in vitro, FOC colonization and fusaric acid (FA) production decreased in cucumber plants under high NO3 supply, associated with lower leaf membrane injury. There was a positive correlation between the FA content and the FOC number or relative membrane injury. After the exogenous application of FA, less FA accumulated in the leaves under NO3 feeding, accompanied with a lower leaf membrane injury. In conclusion, higher NO3 supply protected cucumber plants against Fusarium wilt by suppressing FOC colonization and FA production in plants, and increasing the plant tolerance to FA. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Helicobacter pylori Outer Membrane Protein-Related Pathogenesis
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 101; doi:10.3390/toxins9030101 -
Abstract
Helicobacter pylori colonizes the human stomach and induces inflammation, and in some cases persistent infection can result in gastric cancer. Attachment to the gastric mucosa is the first step in establishing bacterial colonization, and outer membrane proteins (OMPs) play a pivotal role in
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Helicobacter pylori colonizes the human stomach and induces inflammation, and in some cases persistent infection can result in gastric cancer. Attachment to the gastric mucosa is the first step in establishing bacterial colonization, and outer membrane proteins (OMPs) play a pivotal role in binding to human cells. Some OMP interaction molecules are known in H. pylori, and their associated host cell responses have been gradually clarified. Many studies have demonstrated that OMPs are essential to CagA translocation into gastric cells via the Type IV secretion system of H. pylori. This review summarizes the mechanisms through which H. pylori utilizes OMPs to colonize the human stomach and how OMPs cooperate with the Type IV secretion system. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Biologically-Based Computational Approach to Drug Repurposing for Anthrax Infection
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 99; doi:10.3390/toxins9030099 -
Abstract
Developing drugs to treat the toxic effects of lethal toxin (LT) and edema toxin (ET) produced by B. anthracis is of global interest. We utilized a computational approach to score 474 drugs/compounds for their ability to reverse the toxic effects of anthrax
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Developing drugs to treat the toxic effects of lethal toxin (LT) and edema toxin (ET) produced by B. anthracis is of global interest. We utilized a computational approach to score 474 drugs/compounds for their ability to reverse the toxic effects of anthrax toxins. For each toxin or drug/compound, we constructed an activity network by using its differentially expressed genes, molecular targets, and protein interactions. Gene expression profiles of drugs were obtained from the Connectivity Map and those of anthrax toxins in human alveolar macrophages were obtained from the Gene Expression Omnibus. Drug rankings were based on the ability of a drug/compound’s mode of action in the form of a signaling network to reverse the effects of anthrax toxins; literature reports were used to verify the top 10 and bottom 10 drugs/compounds identified. Simvastatin and bepridil with reported in vitro potency for protecting cells from LT and ET toxicities were computationally ranked fourth and eighth. The other top 10 drugs were fenofibrate, dihydroergotamine, cotinine, amantadine, mephenytoin, sotalol, ifosfamide, and mefloquine; literature mining revealed their potential protective effects from LT and ET toxicities. These drugs are worthy of investigation for their therapeutic benefits and might be used in combination with antibiotics for treating B. anthracis infection. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Plasma-Based Degradation of Mycotoxins Produced by Fusarium, Aspergillus and Alternaria Species
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 97; doi:10.3390/toxins9030097 -
Abstract
The efficacy of cold atmospheric pressure plasma (CAPP) with ambient air as working gas for the degradation of selected mycotoxins was studied. Deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, enniatins, fumonisin B1, and T2 toxin produced by Fusarium spp., sterigmatocystin produced by Aspergillus spp. and AAL toxin produced
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The efficacy of cold atmospheric pressure plasma (CAPP) with ambient air as working gas for the degradation of selected mycotoxins was studied. Deoxynivalenol, zearalenone, enniatins, fumonisin B1, and T2 toxin produced by Fusarium spp., sterigmatocystin produced by Aspergillus spp. and AAL toxin produced by Alternaria alternata were used. The kinetics of the decay of mycotoxins exposed to plasma discharge was monitored. All pure mycotoxins exposed to CAPP were degraded almost completely within 60 s. Degradation rates varied with mycotoxin structure: fumonisin B1 and structurally related AAL toxin were degraded most rapidly while sterigmatocystin exhibited the highest resistance to degradation. As compared to pure compounds, the degradation rates of mycotoxins embedded in extracts of fungal cultures on rice were reduced to a varying extent. Our results show that CAPP efficiently degrades pure mycotoxins, the degradation rates vary with mycotoxin structure, and the presence of matrix slows down yet does not prevent the degradation. CAPP appears promising for the decontamination of food commodities with mycotoxins confined to or enriched on surfaces such as cereal grains. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Influence of Low Doses of Zearalenone and T-2 Toxin on Calcitonin Gene Related Peptide-Like Immunoreactive (CGRP-LI) Neurons in the ENS of the Porcine Descending Colon
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 98; doi:10.3390/toxins9030098 -
Abstract
The enteric nervous system (ENS) can undergo adaptive and reparative changes in response to physiological and pathological stimuli. These manifest primarily as alterations in the levels of active substances expressed by the enteric neuron. While it is known that mycotoxins can affect the
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The enteric nervous system (ENS) can undergo adaptive and reparative changes in response to physiological and pathological stimuli. These manifest primarily as alterations in the levels of active substances expressed by the enteric neuron. While it is known that mycotoxins can affect the function of the central and peripheral nervous systems, knowledge about their influence on the ENS is limited. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate the influence of low doses of zearalenone (ZEN) and T-2 toxin on calcitonin gene related peptide-like immunoreactive (CGRP-LI) neurons in the ENS of the porcine descending colon using a double immunofluorescence technique. Both mycotoxins led to an increase in the percentage of CGRP-LI neurons in all types of enteric plexuses and changed the degree of co-localization of CGRP with other neuronal active substances, such as substance P, galanin, nitric oxide synthase, and cocaine- and amphetamine-regulated transcript peptide. The obtained results demonstrate that even low doses of ZEN and T-2 can affect living organisms and cause changes in the neurochemical profile of enteric neurons. Full article
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