Toxins2014, 6(9), 2605-2611; doi:10.3390/toxins6092605 (registering DOI) - published 2 September 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Aconite roots (roots or root tubers of the Aconitum species) are eaten as root vegetables and used to prepare herbal soups and meals, mainly for their purported health benefits. Aconite roots contain aconitine and other Aconitum alkaloids, which are well known cardiotoxins and neurotoxins. To better understand why Aconitum alkaloid poisoning related to the culinary uses of aconite roots can occur and characterize the risks posed by these “food supplements”, relevant published reports were reviewed. From 1995 to 2013, there were eight reports of aconite poisoning after consumption of these herbal soups and meals, including two reports of large clusters of cases (n = 19–45) and two reports of cases (n = 15–156) managed by two hospitals over a period of 4.5 to 5 years. The herbal formulae used did not adhere to the suggested guidelines, with regarding to the doses (50–500 g instead of 3–30 g per person) and types (raw instead of processed) of aconite roots used. The quantities of Aconitum alkaloids involved were huge, taking into consideration the doses of aconite roots used to prepare herbal soups/meals and the amounts of aconite roots and herbal soups/meals consumed. In a large cluster of cases, despite simmering raw “caowu” (the root tuber of A. kusnezoffii) in pork broth for 24 h, all 19 family members who consumed this soup and boiled “caowu” developed poisoning. Severe or even fatal aconite poisoning can occur after consumption of herbal soups and foods prepared from aconite roots. Even prolonged boiling may not be protective if raw preparations and large quantities of aconite roots are used. The public should be warned of the risk of severe poisoning related to the culinary and traditional medicinal uses of aconite roots.
Abstract: A novel hemorrhagic metalloproteinase, okinalysin, was isolated from the venom of Ovophis okinavensis. It possessed caseinolytic and hemorrhagic activities, and also hydrolyzed fibrinogen and collagen. These activities were inhibited by ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) but not by p-amidinophenyl methanesulfonyl fluoride hydrochloride (APMSF). The molecular mass of okinalysin was 22,202 Da measured by MALDI/TOF mass spectrometry. The primary structure of okinalysin was partially determined by Edman sequencing, and the putative zinc-binding domain HEXXHXXGXXH was found to be present in its structure. From these data, okinalysin is defined as a metalloproteinase belonging to a P-I class. The partial amino acid sequence of okinalysin was homologous to the C-terminus of MP 10, a putative metalloproteinase induced from transcriptome of the venom gland cDNA sequencing of O. okinavensis. Okinalysin possessed cytotoxic activity on cultured endothelial cells, and the EC50 on human pulmonary artery endothelial cells was determined to be 0.6 μg/mL. The histopathological study also showed that okinalysin causes the leakage of red blood cells and neutrophil infiltration. These results indicate that destruction of blood vessels by okinalysin is one of the main causes of hemorrhage.
Abstract: Fumonisin A-series (FAs) in a reference material of corn sample that was naturally contaminated with fumonisins was characterized using high-resolution liquid chromatography-Orbitrap mass spectrometry (LC-Orbitap MS). Peaks for fumonisin B1 (FB1), fumonisin B2 (FB2), and fumonisin B3 (FB3), in addition to three peaks corresponding to unknown compounds I, II, and III, were detected in the chromatogram for the corn sample. Fragment ion analysis for FB1, FB2, and FB3 showed that while the ions formed at m/z values of 200–800 were similar to those formed by the cleavage of the tricarballylic acids and the hydroxyl groups, the fragmentation patterns at m/z values of 50–200 varied depending on the hydroxyl group locations in the compounds. Fragment ion analysis of compounds I–III revealed structural similarities to FBs, only differing by an additional C2H2O in the unknown compounds. Using these results and by comparing the product ion mass spectra of compound I with fumonisin A1 (FA1) synthesized from FB1 standards, compounds I–III were hypothesized to be N-acetyl analogs of FBs: fumonisins A1 (FA1), A2 (FA2), and A3 (FA3). The method for determining concentrations was validated with FA1, FB1, FB2, and FB3 standards and applied to analyze the reference material. The FB1, FB2, and FB3 analytical levels were within acceptance limits and the amount of FA1 in the material was ~15% of FB1 amount at 4.2 mg/kg.
Abstract: Intermediate-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ (IK) channels are calcium/calmodulin-regulated voltage-independent K+ channels. Activation of IK currents is important in vessel and respiratory tissues, rendering the channels potential drug targets. A variety of small organic molecules have been synthesized and found to be potent activators of IK channels. However, the poor selectivity of these molecules limits their therapeutic value. Venom-derived peptides usually block their targets with high specificity. Therefore, we searched for novel peptide activators of IK channels by testing a series of toxins from spiders. Using electrophysiological experiments, we identified hainantoxin-I (HNTX-I) as an IK-channel activator. HNTX-I has little effect on voltage-gated Na+ and Ca2+ channels from rat dorsal root ganglion neurons and on the heterologous expression of voltage-gated rapidly activating delayed rectifier K+ channels (human ether-à-go-go-related gene; human ERG) in HEK293T cells. Only 35.2% ± 0.4% of the currents were activated in SK channels, and there was no effect on BK channels. We demonstrated that HNTX-I was not a phrenic nerve conduction blocker or acutely toxic. This is believed to be the first report of a peptide activator effect on IK channels. Our study suggests that the activity and selectivity of HNTX-I on IK channels make HNTX-I a promising template for designing new drugs for cardiovascular diseases.
Abstract: Serum therapy remains the only specific treatment against envenoming, but anti-venoms are still prepared by fragmentation of polyclonal antibodies isolated from hyper-immunized horse serum. Most of these anti-venoms are considered to be efficient, but their production is tedious, and their use may be associated with adverse effects. Recombinant antibodies and smaller functional units are now emerging as credible alternatives and constitute a source of still unexploited biomolecules capable of neutralizing venoms. This review will be a walk through the technologies that have recently been applied leading to novel antibody formats with better properties in terms of homogeneity, specific activity and possible safety.
Abstract: To intoxicate cells, pore-forming bacterial toxins are evolved to allow for the transmembrane traffic of different substrates, ranging from small inorganic ions to cell-specific polypeptides. Recent developments in single-channel electrical recordings, X-ray crystallography, protein engineering, and computational methods have generated a large body of knowledge about the basic principles of channel-mediated molecular transport. These discoveries provide a robust framework for expansion of the described principles and methods toward use of biological nanopores in the growing field of nanobiotechnology. This article, written for a special volume on “Intracellular Traffic and Transport of Bacterial Protein Toxins”, reviews the current state of applications of pore-forming bacterial toxins in small- and macromolecule-sensing, targeted cancer therapy, and drug delivery. We discuss the electrophysiological studies that explore molecular details of channel-facilitated protein and polymer transport across cellular membranes using both natural and foreign substrates. The review focuses on the structurally and functionally different bacterial toxins: gramicidin A of Bacillus brevis, α-hemolysin of Staphylococcus aureus, and binary toxin of Bacillus anthracis, which have found their “second life” in a variety of developing medical and technological applications.