Abstract: Among the great number of addictive modules which have been discovered, only a few have been characterized. However, research concerning the adoption of toxins from these systems shows their great potential as a tool for molecular biology and medicine. In our study, we tested two different toxins derived from class II addictive modules, pasAB from plasmid pTF-FC2 (Thiobacillus ferrooxidans) and vapBC 2829Rv (Mycobacterium tuberculosis), in terms of their usefulness as growth inhibitors of human cancer cell lines, namely KYSE 30, MCF-7 and HCT 116. Transfection of the pasB and vapC genes into the cells was conducted with the use of two different expression systems. Cellular effects, such as apoptosis, necrosis and changes in the cell cycle, were tested by applying flow cytometry with immunofluorescence staining. Our findings demonstrated that toxins VapC and PasB demonstrate proapoptotic activity in the human cancer cells, regardless of the expression system used. As for the toxin PasB, observed changes were more subtle than for the VapC. The level of expression for both the genes was monitored by QPCR and did not reveal statistically significant differences within the same cell line.
Abstract: As the biosynthesis of cylindrospermopsin (CYN) is assumed to depend on nitrogen availability, this study investigated the impact of nitrogen availability on intra- and extracellular CYN and deoxy-CYN (D-CYN) contents in three Aphanizomenon strains from temperate waters. Nitrogen deficient (−N) cultures showed a prolonged growth phase and intracellular toxin accumulation by a factor of 2–6. In contrast, cultures with additional nitrate supply (+N) did not accumulate CYN within the cells. Instead, the maximum conceivable CYN release estimated for dead cells (identified by SYTOX® Green staining) was much lower than the concentrations of dissolved CYN actually observed, suggesting these cultures actively release CYN from intact cells. Furthermore, we found remarkably altered proportions of CYN to D-CYN: as batch cultures grew, the proportion of D-CYN increased by up to 40% in +N medium, whereas D-CYN remained constant or decreased slightly in −N medium. Since +N cultures showed similar toxin patterns as −P cultures with increased extracellular CYNs and higher proportion of D-CYN we conclude that nitrogen limitation may affect the way the cells economize resources, especially the yield from phosphorus pools, and that this has an impact on CYN production and release. For water management, these result imply that nutrient availability not only determines the abundance of potentially CYN-producing cyanobacteria, but also the amount of extracellular CYNs (challenging drinking-water treatment) as well as the ratio of D-CYN to CYN (affecting toxicity).
Abstract: Massive developments of potentially toxic cyanobacteria in Lake Stechlin, an oligo-mesotrophic lake in the Baltic Lake District of Germany raised concerns about toxic contamination of these important ecosystems. Field samples in the phase of mass developments of cyanobacteria were used for genetic and toxicological analyses. Microcystins and microcystin genes were detected in field samples of the lake for the first time. However, the toxins were not produced by the dominant taxa (Dolichospermum circinale and Aphanizomenon flos-aquae) but by taxa, which were present only in low biomass in the samples (Microcystis cf. aeruginosa and Planktothrix rubescens). The phytoplankton successions during the study period revealed an increase of cyanobacterial populations. The findings contribute to the changes that have been investigated in Lake Stechlin since the mid-1990s. The possible reasons behind these developments may be climate change, special weather conditions and an increased nutrient pool.
Abstract: Non-native (exotic) snakes are a problematic source of envenomation worldwide. This manuscript describes the current demographics, outcomes and challenges of non-native snakebites in the United States (U.S.). We performed a retrospective case series of the National Poison Data System (NPDS) database between 2005 and 2011. There were 258 human exposures involving at least 61 unique exotic venomous species (average = 37 per year; range = 33–40). Males comprised 79% and females 21%. The average age was 33 years with 16% less than 20 years old. 70% of bites occurred in a private residence and 86% were treated at a healthcare facility. 35% of cases received antivenom and 10% were given antibiotics. This study is compared to our previous study (1994–2004) in which there was a substantial coding error rate. Software modifications significantly reduced coding errors. Identification and acquisition of appropriate antivenoms pose a number of logistical difficulties in the management of these envenomations. In the U.S., poison centers have valuable systems and clinical roles in the provision of expert consultation and in the management of these cases.
Abstract: Bradykinin-related peptides (BRPs) are significant components of the defensive skin secretions of many anuran amphibians, and these secretions represent the source of the most diverse spectrum of such peptides so far encountered in nature. Of the many families of bioactive peptides that have been identified from this source, the BRPs uniquely appear to represent homologues of counterparts that have specific distributions and receptor targets within discrete vertebrate taxa, ranging from fishes through mammals. Their broad spectra of actions, including pain and inflammation induction and smooth muscle effects, make these peptides ideal weapons in predator deterrence. Here, we describe a novel 12-mer BRP (RVALPPGFTPLR-RVAL-(L1, T6, L8)-bradykinin) from the skin secretion of the Fujian large-headed frog (Limnonectes fujianensis). The C-terminal 9 residues of this BRP (-LPPGFTPLR) exhibit three amino acid substitutions (L/R at Position 1, T/S at Position 6 and L/F at Position 8) when compared to canonical mammalian bradykinin (BK), but are identical to the kinin sequence present within the cloned kininogen-2 from the Chinese soft-shelled turtle (Pelodiscus sinensis) and differ from that encoded by kininogen-2 of the Tibetan ground tit (Pseudopodoces humilis) at just a single site (F/L at Position 8). These data would imply that the novel BRP is an amphibian defensive agent against predation by sympatric turtles and also that the primary structure of the avian BK, ornithokinin (RPPGFTPLR), is not invariant within this taxon. Synthetic RVAL-(L1, T6, L8)-bradykinin was found to be an antagonist of BK-induced rat tail artery smooth muscle relaxation acting via the B2-receptor.
Abstract: The insecticidal properties of Cry-endotoxins from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)have long been used as spore-crystals in commercial spray formulations for insect control. Recently, some Bt-endotoxin genes have been cloned in many different plants. Toxicological evaluations of three spore-crystal endotoxins, BtCry1Ia, BtCry10Aa and BtCry1Ba6 from B. thuringiensis,were carried out on mice to understand their adverse effects on hematological systems and on genetic material. These three spore-crystals have shown toxic activity to the boll weevil, which is one of the most aggressive pests of the cotton crop. Cry1Ia, Cry10Aa and Cry1Ba6 did not increase the micronucleus frequency in the peripheral erythrocytes of mice and did not cause changes in the frequency of polychromatic erythrocytes. However, some hematologic disburbances were observed, specifically related to Cry1Ia and Cry1Ba6, respectively, for the erythroid and lymphoid lineage. Thus, although the profile of such adverse side effects can be related to their high level of exposure, which is not commonly found in the environment, results showed that these Bt spore-crystals were not harmless to mice, indicating that each spore-crystal endotoxin presents a characteristic profile of toxicity and might be investigated individually.