Abstract: Medically important cases of snakebite in Europe are predominately caused by European vipers of the genus Vipera.The mainstay of snakebite therapy is polyclonal antibody therapy, referred to as antivenom. Here we investigate the capability of the monospecific V. berus antivenom, ViperaTAb®, to cross-react with, and neutralise lethality induced by, a variety of European vipers. Using ELISA and immunoblotting, we find that ViperaTAb® antibodies recognise and bind to the majority of toxic components found in the venoms of the Vipera species tested at comparably high levels to those observed with V. berus. Using in vivo pre-clinical efficacy studies, we demonstrate that ViperaTAb® effectively neutralises lethality induced by V. berus, V. aspis, V. ammodytes and V. latastei venoms and at much higher levels than those outlined by regulatory pharmacopoeial guidelines. Notably, venom neutralisation was found to be superior to (V. berus, V. aspis and V. latastei), or as equally effective as (V. ammodytes), the monospecific V. ammodytes “Zagreb antivenom”, which has long been successfully used for treating European snake envenomings. This study suggests that ViperaTAb® may be a valuable therapeutic product for treating snakebite by a variety of European vipers found throughout the continent.
Abstract: The use of Bacillusthuringiensis (Bt) strains with high insecticidal activity is essential for the preparation of bioinsecticide. In this study, for 60 Bt strains isolated in Taiwan, their genotypes and the correlation of some cry genes as well as the expression levels of cry1 genes, with their insecticidal activities against Plutella xylostella, were investigated. Pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) results revealed that the genotypes of these Bt strains are highly diversified. Also, a considerable number of the Bt strains isolated in Taiwan were found to have high insecticidal activities. Since strains that showed individual combined patterns of PFGE and RAPD exhibited distinct insecticidal activities against P. xylostella, thus, these genotypes may be useful for the identification of the new Bt strains and those which have been used in bioinsecticides. In addition, although the presence of cry2Aa1 may have a greater effect on the insecticidal activity of Bt strains in bioassay than other cry genes, only high expression level of cry1 genes plays a key role to determine the insecticidal activity of Bt strains. In conclusion, both RAPD and PFGE are effective in the differentiation of Bt strains. The presence of cry2Aa1 and, especially, the expression level of cry1 genes are useful for the prediction of the insecticidal activities of Bt strains against P. xylostella.
Abstract: Nucleic acid aptamers are emerging as useful molecular recognition tools for food safety monitoring. However, practical and technical challenges limit the number and diversity of available aptamer probes that can be incorporated into novel sensing schemes. This work describes the selection of novel DNA aptamers that bind to the important food contaminant ochratoxin A (OTA). Following 15 rounds of in vitro selection, sequences were analyzed for OTA binding. Two of the isolated aptamers demonstrated high affinity binding and selectivity to this mycotoxin compared to similar food adulterants. These sequences, as well as a truncated aptamer (minimal sequence required for binding), were incorporated into a SYBR® Green I fluorescence-based OTA biosensing scheme. This label-free detection platform is capable of rapid, selective, and sensitive OTA quantification with a limit of detection of 9 nM and linear quantification up to 100 nM.
Abstract: Bacterial infection is a major threat to human health. Although pathogenic bacteria vary in their virulence, it has been recognized that many pathogenic bacteria share common mechanisms when attacking host cells and tissues. Some pathogenic bacteria synthesize and secrete polysaccharides to form an extracellular capsule. Capsules serve as virulence determinants by multiple mechanisms including facilitation of bacterial adherence, evasion of the immune response, and antibiotic resistance . Moreover, to the exterior of bacterial plasma membranes are certain toxic components (e.g., lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in Gram-negative bacteria, and peptidoglycan fragments and teichoic acids in Gram-positive bacteria) that play key roles in causing bacterial septic shock or multiple organ dysfunction . Significantly, bacteria may secrete proteinaceous or non-proteinaceous molecules, namely exotoxins, capable of directly destroying host cells. The Repeat-in-Toxin (RTX) family is a group of virulence-associated exotoxins that are generated by Gram-negative bacteria and are noted for their ability to form pores on the membrane of host cells including leukocytes . Despite the intense effort that has been input into investigating the interaction between RTX toxins and host cells during bacterial infection, our understanding of how RTX toxins insert into host cell membranes, and in turn, how host cells respond to the challenge of these toxins remains very limited. [...]
Abstract: Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed (AVA) generates short-lived protective antigen (PA) specific IgG that correlates with in vitro toxin neutralization and protection from Bacillus anthracis challenge. Animal studies suggest that when PA-specific IgG has waned, survival after spore challenge correlates with an activation of PA-specific memory B cells. Here, we characterize the quantity and the longevity of AVA-induced memory B cell responses in humans. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from individuals vaccinated ≥3 times with AVA (n = 50) were collected early (3–6 months, n = 27) or late after their last vaccination (2–5 years, n = 23), pan-stimulated, and assayed by ELISPOT for total and PA-specific memory B cells differentiated into antibody secreting cells (ASCs). PA-specific ASC percentages ranged from 0.02% to 6.25% (median: 1.57%) and did not differ between early and late post-vaccination individuals. PA-specific ASC percentages correlated with plasma PA-specific IgG (r = 0.42, p = 0.03) and toxin neutralization (r = 0.52, p = 0.003) early post vaccination. PA-specific ASC percentages correlated with supernatant anti-PA both early (r = 0.60, p = 0.001) and late post vaccination (r = 0.71, p < 0.0001). These data suggest PA-specific memory B cell responses are long-lived and can be estimated after recent vaccination by the magnitude and neutralization capacity of the humoral response.
Abstract: Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a gram-positive spore-forming soil bacterium that is distributed worldwide. Originally recognized as a pathogen of the silkworm, several strains were found on epizootic events in insect pests. In the 1960s, Bt began to be successfully used to control insect pests in agriculture, particularly because of its specificity, which reflects directly on their lack of cytotoxicity to human health, non-target organisms and the environment. Since the introduction of transgenic plants expressing Bt genes in the mid-1980s, numerous methodologies have been used to search for and improve toxins derived from native Bt strains. These improvements directly influence the increase in productivity and the decreased use of chemical insecticides on Bt-crops. Recently, DNA shuffling and in silico evaluations are emerging as promising tools for the development and exploration of mutant Bt toxins with enhanced activity against target insect pests. In this report, we describe natural and in vitro evolution of Cry toxins, as well as their relevance in the mechanism of action for insect control. Moreover, the use of DNA shuffling to improve two Bt toxins will be discussed together with in silico analyses of the generated mutations to evaluate their potential effect on protein structure and cytotoxicity.