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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Degradation of Aflatoxins by Means of Laccases from Trametes versicolor: An In Silico Insight
Toxins 2017, 9(1), 17; doi:10.3390/toxins9010017
Received: 16 November 2016 / Revised: 16 December 2016 / Accepted: 26 December 2016 / Published: 1 January 2017
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (4192 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites of fungi that contaminate food and feed, and are involved in a series of foodborne illnesses and disorders in humans and animals. The mitigation of mycotoxin content via enzymatic degradation is a strategy to ensure safer food and feed,
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Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites of fungi that contaminate food and feed, and are involved in a series of foodborne illnesses and disorders in humans and animals. The mitigation of mycotoxin content via enzymatic degradation is a strategy to ensure safer food and feed, and to address the forthcoming issues in view of the global trade and sustainability. Nevertheless, the search for active enzymes is still challenging and time-consuming. The in silico analysis may strongly support the research by providing the evidence-based hierarchization of enzymes for a rational design of more effective experimental trials. The present work dealt with the degradation of aflatoxin B1 and M1 by laccase enzymes from Trametes versicolor. The enzymes–substrate interaction for various enzyme isoforms was investigated through 3D molecular modeling techniques. Structural differences among the isoforms have been pinpointed, which may cause different patterns of interaction between aflatoxin B1 and M1. The possible formation of different products of degradation can be argued accordingly. Moreover, the laccase gamma isoform was identified as the most suitable for protein engineering aimed at ameliorating the substrate specificity. Overall, 3D modeling proved to be an effective analytical tool to assess the enzyme–substrate interaction and provided a solid foothold for supporting the search of degrading enzyme at the early stage. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Bioactivity of Natural and Engineered Antimicrobial Peptides from Venom of the Scorpions Urodacus yaschenkoi and U. manicatus
Toxins 2017, 9(1), 22; doi:10.3390/toxins9010022
Received: 26 November 2016 / Revised: 26 December 2016 / Accepted: 29 December 2016 / Published: 6 January 2017
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (1593 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The spread of multidrug-resistant human pathogens has drawn attention towards antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), which are major players in the innate immune systems of many organisms, including vertebrates, invertebrates, plants and microbes. Scorpion venom is an abundant source of novel and potent AMPs. Here,
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The spread of multidrug-resistant human pathogens has drawn attention towards antimicrobial peptides (AMPs), which are major players in the innate immune systems of many organisms, including vertebrates, invertebrates, plants and microbes. Scorpion venom is an abundant source of novel and potent AMPs. Here, we investigated natural and engineered AMPs from the scorpions Urodacus yaschenkoi and U. manicatus to determine their antimicrobial spectra as well as their hemolytic/cytotoxic activity. None of the AMPs were active against fungi, but many of them were active at low concentrations (0.25–30 µM) against seven different bacteria. Hemolytic and cytotoxic activities were determined using pig erythrocytes and baby hamster kidney cells, respectively. The amino acid substitutions in the engineered AMPs did not inhibit cytotoxicity, but reduced hemolysis and therefore increased the therapeutic indices. The phylogenetic analysis of scorpion AMPs revealed they are closely related and the GXK motif is highly conserved. The engineered scorpion AMPs offer a promising alternative for the treatment of multidrug-resistant bacterial infections and could be modified further to reduce their hemolytic/cytotoxic activity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Novel Aflatoxin-Degrading Enzyme from Bacillus shackletonii L7
Toxins 2017, 9(1), 36; doi:10.3390/toxins9010036
Received: 22 September 2016 / Revised: 10 January 2017 / Accepted: 11 January 2017 / Published: 14 January 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (3161 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Food and feed contamination by aflatoxin (AF)B1 has adverse economic and health consequences. AFB1 degradation by microorganisms or microbial enzymes provides a promising preventive measure. To this end, the present study tested 43 bacterial isolates collected from maize, rice, and soil
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Food and feed contamination by aflatoxin (AF)B1 has adverse economic and health consequences. AFB1 degradation by microorganisms or microbial enzymes provides a promising preventive measure. To this end, the present study tested 43 bacterial isolates collected from maize, rice, and soil samples for AFB1-reducing activity. The higher activity was detected in isolate L7, which was identified as Bacillus shackletonii. L7 reduced AFB1, AFB2, and AFM1 levels by 92.1%, 84.1%, and 90.4%, respectively, after 72 h at 37 °C. The L7 culture supernatant degraded more AFB1 than viable cells and cell extracts; and the degradation activity was reduced from 77.9% to 15.3% in the presence of proteinase K and sodium dodecyl sulphate. A thermostable enzyme purified from the boiled supernatant was designated as Bacillus aflatoxin-degrading enzyme (BADE). An overall 9.55-fold purification of BADE with a recovery of 39.92% and an activity of 3.85 × 103 U·mg−1 was obtained using chromatography on DEAE-Sepharose. BADE had an estimated molecular mass of 22 kDa and exhibited the highest activity at 70 °C and pH 8.0, which was enhanced by Cu2+ and inhibited by Zn2+, Mn2+, Mg2+, and Li+. BADE is the major protein involved in AFB1 detoxification. This is the first report of a BADE isolated from B. shackletonii, which has potential applications in the detoxification of aflatoxins during food and feed processing. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Metabolism of Zearalenone and Its Major Modified Forms in Pigs
Toxins 2017, 9(2), 56; doi:10.3390/toxins9020056
Received: 15 January 2017 / Revised: 2 February 2017 / Accepted: 6 February 2017 / Published: 8 February 2017
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (512 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The Fusarium mycotoxin zearalenone (ZEN) can be conjugated with polar molecules, like sugars or sulfates, by plants and fungi. To date, the fate of these modified forms of ZEN has not yet been elucidated in animals. In order to investigate whether ZEN conjugates
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The Fusarium mycotoxin zearalenone (ZEN) can be conjugated with polar molecules, like sugars or sulfates, by plants and fungi. To date, the fate of these modified forms of ZEN has not yet been elucidated in animals. In order to investigate whether ZEN conjugates contribute to the total ZEN exposure of an individual, ZEN (10 µg/kg b.w.) and equimolar amounts of two of its plant metabolites (ZEN-14-O-β-glucoside, ZEN-16-O-β-glucoside) and of one fungal metabolite (ZEN-14-sulfate) were orally administered to four pigs as a single bolus using a repeated measures design. The concentrations of ZEN, its modified forms and its mammalian metabolites ZEN-14-glucuronide, α-zearalenol (α-ZEL) and α-ZEL-14-glucuronide in excreta were analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS) based methods. The biological recovery of ZEN in urine was 26% ± 10%, the total biological recovery in excreta was 40% ± 8%. Intact ZEN-14-sulfate, ZEN-14-O-β-glucoside and ZEN-16-O-β-glucoside were neither detected in urine nor in feces. After ZEN-14-sulfate application, 19% ± 5% of the administered dose was recovered in urine. In feces, no ZEN metabolites were detected. The total biological recoveries of ZEN-14-O-β-glucoside and ZEN-16-O-β-glucoside in the form of their metabolites in urine were 19% ± 11% and 13% ± 7%, respectively. The total biological recoveries in urine and feces amounted to 48% ± 7% and 34 ± 3%. An explanation for the low biological recoveries could be extensive metabolization by intestinal bacteria to yet unknown metabolites. In summary, ZEN-14-sulfate, ZEN-14-O-β-glucoside, and ZEN-16-O-β-glucoside were completely hydrolyzed in the gastrointestinal tract of swine, thus contributing to the overall toxicity of ZEN. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Fusarium Toxins – Relevance for Human and Animal Health)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Patulin Degradation by the Biocontrol Yeast Sporobolomyces sp. Is an Inducible Process
Toxins 2017, 9(2), 61; doi:10.3390/toxins9020061
Received: 12 January 2017 / Revised: 2 February 2017 / Accepted: 7 February 2017 / Published: 10 February 2017
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (1864 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Patulin is a mycotoxin produced by Penicillium expansum and a common contaminant of pome fruits and their derived products worldwide. It is considered to be mutagenic, genotoxic, immunotoxic, teratogenic and cytotoxic, and the development of strategies to reduce this contamination is an active
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Patulin is a mycotoxin produced by Penicillium expansum and a common contaminant of pome fruits and their derived products worldwide. It is considered to be mutagenic, genotoxic, immunotoxic, teratogenic and cytotoxic, and the development of strategies to reduce this contamination is an active field of research. We previously reported that Sporobolomyces sp. is able to degrade patulin and convert it into the breakdown products desoxypatulinic acid and ascladiol, both of which were found to be less toxic than patulin. The specific aim of this study was the evaluation of the triggering of the mechanisms involved in patulin resistance and degradation by Sporobolomyces sp. Cells pre-incubated in the presence of a low patulin concentration showed a higher resistance to patulin toxicity and a faster kinetics of degradation. Similarly, patulin degradation was faster when crude intracellular protein extracts of Sporobolomyces sp. were prepared from cells pre-treated with the mycotoxin, indicating the induction of the mechanisms involved in the resistance and degradation of the mycotoxin by Sporobolomyces sp. This study contributes to the understanding of the mechanisms of patulin resistance and degradation by Sporobolomyces sp., which is an essential prerequisite for developing an industrial approach aiming at the production of patulin-free products. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle The Cardiovascular and Neurotoxic Effects of the Venoms of Six Bony and Cartilaginous Fish Species
Toxins 2017, 9(2), 67; doi:10.3390/toxins9020067
Received: 15 September 2016 / Accepted: 3 February 2017 / Published: 16 February 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2240 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Fish venoms are often poorly studied, in part due to the difficulty in obtaining, extracting, and storing them. In this study, we characterize the cardiovascular and neurotoxic effects of the venoms from the following six species of fish: the cartilaginous stingrays Neotrygon kuhlii
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Fish venoms are often poorly studied, in part due to the difficulty in obtaining, extracting, and storing them. In this study, we characterize the cardiovascular and neurotoxic effects of the venoms from the following six species of fish: the cartilaginous stingrays Neotrygon kuhlii and Himantura toshi, and the bony fish Platycephalus fucus, Girella tricuspidata, Mugil cephalus, and Dentex tumifrons. All venoms (10–100 μg/kg, i.v.), except G. tricuspidata and P. fuscus, induced a biphasic response on mean arterial pressure (MAP) in the anesthetised rat. P. fucus venom exhibited a hypotensive response, while venom from G. tricuspidata displayed a single depressor response. All venoms induced cardiovascular collapse at 200 μg/kg, i.v. The in vitro neurotoxic effects of venom were examined using the chick biventer cervicis nerve‐muscle (CBCNM) preparation. N. kuhlii, H. toshi, and P. fucus venoms caused concentration‐dependent inhibition of indirect twitches in the CBCNM preparation. These three venoms also inhibited responses to exogenous acetylcholine (ACh) and carbachol (CCh), but not potassium chloride (KCl), indicating a post‐synaptic mode of action. Venom from G. tricuspidata, M. cephalus, and D. tumifrons had no significant effect on indirect twitches or agonist responses in the CBCNM. Our results demonstrate that envenoming by these species of fish may result in moderate cardiovascular and/or neurotoxic effects. Future studies aimed at identifying the molecules responsible for these effects could uncover potentially novel lead compounds for future pharmaceuticals, in addition to generating new knowledge about the evolutionary relationships between venomous animals. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceCommunication Acute Oral Toxicity of Tetrodotoxin in Mice: Determination of Lethal Dose 50 (LD50) and No Observed Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL)
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 75; doi:10.3390/toxins9030075
Received: 9 January 2017 / Revised: 26 January 2017 / Accepted: 22 February 2017 / Published: 24 February 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (567 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Tetrodotoxin (TTX) is starting to appear in molluscs from the European waters and is a hazard to seafood consumers. This toxin blocks sodium channels resulting in neuromuscular paralysis and even death. As a part of the risk assessment process leading to a safe
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Tetrodotoxin (TTX) is starting to appear in molluscs from the European waters and is a hazard to seafood consumers. This toxin blocks sodium channels resulting in neuromuscular paralysis and even death. As a part of the risk assessment process leading to a safe seafood level for TTX, oral toxicity data are required. In this study, a 4-level Up and Down Procedure was designed in order to determine for the first time the oral lethal dose 50 (LD50) and the No Observed Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL) in mice by using an accurate well-characterized TTX standard. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Marine and Freshwater Toxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Detection of Cyanotoxins in Algae Dietary Supplements
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 76; doi:10.3390/toxins9030076
Received: 6 December 2016 / Revised: 17 February 2017 / Accepted: 21 February 2017 / Published: 25 February 2017
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (1583 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Algae dietary supplements are marketed worldwide as natural health products. Although their proprieties have been claimed as beneficial to improve overall health, there have been several previous reports of contamination by cyanotoxins. These products generally contain non-toxic cyanobacteria, but the methods of cultivation
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Algae dietary supplements are marketed worldwide as natural health products. Although their proprieties have been claimed as beneficial to improve overall health, there have been several previous reports of contamination by cyanotoxins. These products generally contain non-toxic cyanobacteria, but the methods of cultivation in natural waters without appropriate quality controls allow contamination by toxin producer species present in the natural environment. In this study, we investigated the presence of total microcystins, seven individual microcystins (RR, YR, LR, LA, LY, LW, LF), anatoxin-a, dihydroanatoxin-a, epoxyanatoxin-a, cylindrospermopsin, saxitoxin, and β-methylamino-l-alanine in 18 different commercially available products containing Spirulina or Aphanizomenon flos-aquae. Total microcystins analysis was accomplished using a Lemieux oxidation and a chemical derivatization using dansyl chloride was needed for the simultaneous analysis of cylindrospermopsin, saxitoxin, and β-methylamino-l-alanine. Moreover, the use of laser diode thermal desorption (LDTD) and ultra-high performance liquid chromatography (UHPLC) both coupled to high resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) enabled high performance detection and quantitation. Out of the 18 products analyzed, 8 contained some cyanotoxins at levels exceeding the tolerable daily intake values. The presence of cyanotoxins in these algal dietary supplements reinforces the need for a better quality control as well as consumer’s awareness on the potential risks associated with the consumption of these supplements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Marine and Freshwater Toxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Effects of Electron Beam Irradiation on Zearalenone and Ochratoxin A in Naturally Contaminated Corn and Corn Quality Parameters
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 84; doi:10.3390/toxins9030084
Received: 26 November 2016 / Accepted: 6 February 2017 / Published: 27 February 2017
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (1829 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Zearalenone (ZEN) and ochratoxin A (OTA) are secondary toxic metabolites widely present in grains and grain products. In this study, the effects of electron beam irradiation (EBI) on ZEN and OTA in corn and the quality of irradiated corn were investigated. Results indicated
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Zearalenone (ZEN) and ochratoxin A (OTA) are secondary toxic metabolites widely present in grains and grain products. In this study, the effects of electron beam irradiation (EBI) on ZEN and OTA in corn and the quality of irradiated corn were investigated. Results indicated that EBI significantly affected ZEN and OTA. The degradation rates of ZEN and OTA at 10 kGy in solution were 65.6% and 75.2%, respectively. The initial amounts significantly affected the degradation rate. ZEN and OTA in corn were decreased by the irradiation dose, and their degradation rates at 50 kGy were 71.1% and 67.9%, respectively. ZEN and OTA were more easily degraded in corn kernel than in corn flour. Moisture content (MC) played a vital role in ZEN and OTA degradation. High MC was attributed to high ZEN and OTA degradation. The quality of irradiated corn was evaluated on the basis of irradiation dose. L* value changed, but this change was not significant (p > 0.05). By contrast, a* and b* decreased significantly (p < 0.05) with irradiation dose. The fatty acid value increased significantly. The pasting properties, including peak, trough, breakdown, and final and setback viscosities, were also reduced significantly (p < 0.05) by irradiation. Our study verified that EBI could effectively degrade ZEN and OTA in corn. Irradiation could also affect corn quality. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Silver Nanoparticle-Based Fluorescence-Quenching Lateral Flow Immunoassay for Sensitive Detection of Ochratoxin A in Grape Juice and Wine
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 83; doi:10.3390/toxins9030083
Received: 24 November 2016 / Revised: 23 February 2017 / Accepted: 23 February 2017 / Published: 28 February 2017
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (2766 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
A silver nanoparticle (AgNP)-based fluorescence-quenching lateral flow immunoassay with competitive format (cLFIA) was developed for sensitive detection of ochratoxin A (OTA) in grape juice and wine samples in the present study. The Ru(phen)32+-doped silica nanoparticles (RuNPs) were sprayed on
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A silver nanoparticle (AgNP)-based fluorescence-quenching lateral flow immunoassay with competitive format (cLFIA) was developed for sensitive detection of ochratoxin A (OTA) in grape juice and wine samples in the present study. The Ru(phen) 3 2 + -doped silica nanoparticles (RuNPs) were sprayed on the test and control line zones as background fluorescence signals. The AgNPs were designed as the fluorescence quenchers of RuNPs because they can block the exciting light transferring to the RuNP molecules. The proposed method exhibited high sensitivity for OTA detection, with a detection limit of 0.06 µg/L under optimized conditions. The method also exhibited a good linear range for OTA quantitative analysis from 0.08 µg/L to 5.0 µg/L. The reliability of the fluorescence-quenching cLFIA method was evaluated through analysis of the OTA-spiked red grape wine and juice samples. The average recoveries ranged from 88.0% to 110.0% in red grape wine and from 92.0% to 110.0% in grape juice. Meanwhile, less than a 10% coefficient variation indicated an acceptable precision of the cLFIA method. In summary, the new AgNP-based fluorescence-quenching cLFIA is a simple, rapid, sensitive, and accurate method for quantitative detection of OTA in grape juice and wine or other foodstuffs. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Identification of the Anti-Aflatoxinogenic Activity of Micromeria graeca and Elucidation of Its Molecular Mechanism in Aspergillus flavus
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 87; doi:10.3390/toxins9030087
Received: 18 January 2017 / Revised: 22 February 2017 / Accepted: 24 February 2017 / Published: 1 March 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (4655 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Of all the food-contaminating mycotoxins, aflatoxins, and most notably aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), are found to be the most toxic and economically costly. Green farming is striving to replace fungicides and develop natural preventive strategies to minimize crop contamination by these
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Of all the food-contaminating mycotoxins, aflatoxins, and most notably aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), are found to be the most toxic and economically costly. Green farming is striving to replace fungicides and develop natural preventive strategies to minimize crop contamination by these toxic fungal metabolites. In this study, we demonstrated that an aqueous extract of the medicinal plant Micromeria graeca—known as hyssop—completely inhibits aflatoxin production by Aspergillus flavus without reducing fungal growth. The molecular inhibitory mechanism was explored by analyzing the expression of 61 genes, including 27 aflatoxin biosynthesis cluster genes and 34 secondary metabolism regulatory genes. This analysis revealed a three-fold down-regulation of aflR and aflS encoding the two internal cluster co-activators, resulting in a drastic repression of all aflatoxin biosynthesis genes. Hyssop also targeted fifteen regulatory genes, including veA and mtfA, two major global-regulating transcription factors. The effect of this extract is also linked to a transcriptomic variation of several genes required for the response to oxidative stress such as msnA, srrA, catA, cat2, sod1, mnsod, and stuA. In conclusion, hyssop inhibits AFB1 synthesis at the transcriptomic level. This aqueous extract is a promising natural-based solution to control AFB1 contamination. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle A Greener, Quick and Comprehensive Extraction Approach for LC-MS of Multiple Mycotoxins
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 91; doi:10.3390/toxins9030091
Received: 12 January 2017 / Revised: 18 February 2017 / Accepted: 1 March 2017 / Published: 7 March 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2422 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In food/feed control, mycotoxin analysis is often still performed “one analyte at a time”. Here a method is presented which aims at making mycotoxin analysis environmentally friendlier through replacing acetonitrile by ethyl acetate and reducing chemical waste production by analyzing four mycotoxins together,
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In food/feed control, mycotoxin analysis is often still performed “one analyte at a time”. Here a method is presented which aims at making mycotoxin analysis environmentally friendlier through replacing acetonitrile by ethyl acetate and reducing chemical waste production by analyzing four mycotoxins together, forgoing sample extract clean-up, and minimizing solvent consumption. For this, 2 g of test material were suspended in 8 mL water and 16 mL ethyl acetate were added. Extraction was accelerated through sonication for 30 min and subsequent addition of 8 g sodium sulfate. After centrifugation, 500 µL supernatant were spiked with isotopologues, dried down, reconstituted in mobile phase, and measured with LC-MS. The method was validated in-house and through a collaborative study and the performance was fit-for-purpose. Repeatability relative standard deviation (RSDs) between 16% at low and 4% at higher contaminations were obtained. The reproducibility RSDs were mostly between 12% and 32%. The trueness of results for T-2 toxin and Zearalenone were not different from 100%, for Deoxynivalenol and HT-2 toxin they were larger than 89%. The extraction was also adapted to a quick screening of Aflatoxin B1 in maize by flow-injection–mass spectrometry. Semi-quantitative results were obtained through standard addition and scan-based ion ratio calculations. The method proved to be a viable greener and quicker alternative to existing methods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue LC-MS/MS Method for Mycotoxin Analysis) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Crystal Structure of the Receptor-Binding Domain of Botulinum Neurotoxin Type HA, Also Known as Type FA or H
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 93; doi:10.3390/toxins9030093
Received: 25 January 2017 / Revised: 3 March 2017 / Accepted: 4 March 2017 / Published: 8 March 2017
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (2673 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs), which have been exploited as cosmetics and muscle-disorder treatment medicines for decades, are well known for their extreme neurotoxicity to humans. They pose a potential bioterrorism threat because they cause botulism, a flaccid muscular paralysis-associated disease that requires immediate antitoxin
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Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs), which have been exploited as cosmetics and muscle-disorder treatment medicines for decades, are well known for their extreme neurotoxicity to humans. They pose a potential bioterrorism threat because they cause botulism, a flaccid muscular paralysis-associated disease that requires immediate antitoxin treatment and intensive care over a long period of time. In addition to the existing seven established BoNT serotypes (BoNT/A–G), a new mosaic toxin type termed BoNT/HA (aka type FA or H) was reported recently. Sequence analyses indicate that the receptor-binding domain (HC) of BoNT/HA is ~84% identical to that of BoNT/A1. However, BoNT/HA responds differently to some potent BoNT/A-neutralizing antibodies (e.g., CR2) that target the HC. Therefore, it raises a serious concern as to whether BoNT/HA poses a new threat to our biosecurity. In this study, we report the first high-resolution crystal structure of BoNT/HA-HC at 1.8 Å. Sequence and structure analyses reveal that BoNT/HA and BoNT/A1 are different regarding their binding to cell-surface receptors including both polysialoganglioside (PSG) and synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2 (SV2). Furthermore, the new structure also provides explanations for the ~540-fold decreased affinity of antibody CR2 towards BoNT/HA compared to BoNT/A1. Taken together, these new findings advance our understanding of the structure and function of this newly identified toxin at the molecular level, and pave the way for the future development of more effective countermeasures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Bacterial Toxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Multiple Stressors at the Land-Sea Interface: Cyanotoxins at the Land-Sea Interface in the Southern California Bight
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 95; doi:10.3390/toxins9030095
Received: 11 February 2017 / Revised: 2 March 2017 / Accepted: 3 March 2017 / Published: 9 March 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1347 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Blooms of toxic cyanobacteria in freshwater ecosystems have received considerable attention in recent years, but their occurrence and potential importance at the land-sea interface has not been widely recognized. Here we present the results of a survey of discrete samples conducted in more
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Blooms of toxic cyanobacteria in freshwater ecosystems have received considerable attention in recent years, but their occurrence and potential importance at the land-sea interface has not been widely recognized. Here we present the results of a survey of discrete samples conducted in more than fifty brackish water sites along the coastline of southern California. Our objectives were to characterize cyanobacterial community composition and determine if specific groups of cyanotoxins (anatoxins, cylindrospermopsins, microcystins, nodularins, and saxitoxins) were present. We report the identification of numerous potentially harmful taxa and the co-occurrence of multiple toxins, previously undocumented, at several locations. Our findings reveal a potential health concern based on the range of organisms present and the widespread prevalence of recognized toxic compounds. Our results raise concerns for recreation, harvesting of finfish and shellfish, and wildlife and desalination operations, highlighting the need for assessments and implementation of monitoring programs. Such programs appear to be particularly necessary in regions susceptible to urban influence. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Marine and Freshwater Toxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Plasma-Based Degradation of Mycotoxins Produced by Fusarium, Aspergillus and Alternaria Species
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 97; doi:10.3390/toxins9030097
Received: 13 January 2017 / Revised: 28 February 2017 / Accepted: 7 March 2017 / Published: 10 March 2017
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (1960 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
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
[...] Read more.
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 AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle 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
Received: 23 January 2017 / Revised: 19 February 2017 / Accepted: 5 March 2017 / Published: 13 March 2017
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (13619 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
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
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Venoms and Pain)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle 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
Received: 3 February 2017 / Revised: 9 March 2017 / Accepted: 13 March 2017 / Published: 15 March 2017
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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
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Venom Profiling of a Population of the Theraphosid Spider Phlogius crassipes Reveals Continuous Ontogenetic Changes from Juveniles through Adulthood
Toxins 2017, 9(4), 116; doi:10.3390/toxins9040116
Received: 3 February 2017 / Revised: 27 February 2017 / Accepted: 5 March 2017 / Published: 25 March 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2250 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Theraphosid spiders (tarantulas) are venomous arthropods found in most tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Tarantula venoms are a complex cocktail of toxins with potential use as pharmacological tools, drugs and bioinsecticides. Although numerous toxins have been isolated from tarantula venoms, little
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Theraphosid spiders (tarantulas) are venomous arthropods found in most tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Tarantula venoms are a complex cocktail of toxins with potential use as pharmacological tools, drugs and bioinsecticides. Although numerous toxins have been isolated from tarantula venoms, little research has been carried out on the venom of Australian tarantulas. We therefore investigated the venom profile of the Australian theraphosid spider Phlogius crassipes and examined whether there are ontogenetic changes in venom composition. Spiders were divided into four ontogenic groups according to cephalothorax length, then the venom composition of each group was examined using gel electrophoresis and mass spectrometry. We found that the venom of P. crassipes changes continuously during development and throughout adulthood. Our data highlight the need to investigate the venom of organisms over the course of their lives to uncover and understand the changing functions of venom and the full range of toxins expressed. This in turn should lead to a deeper understanding of the organism’s ecology and enhance the potential for biodiscovery. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Evolution of Venom Systems)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Changes in the Fusarium Head Blight Complex of Malting Barley in a Three-Year Field Experiment in Italy
Toxins 2017, 9(4), 120; doi:10.3390/toxins9040120
Received: 6 February 2017 / Revised: 23 March 2017 / Accepted: 24 March 2017 / Published: 29 March 2017
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (1978 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
In this study, conducted for three years on eleven malting barley varieties cultivated in central Italy, the incidence of different mycotoxigenic fungal genera, the identification of the Fusarium species associated with the Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) complex, and kernels contamination with deoxynivalenol (DON)
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In this study, conducted for three years on eleven malting barley varieties cultivated in central Italy, the incidence of different mycotoxigenic fungal genera, the identification of the Fusarium species associated with the Fusarium Head Blight (FHB) complex, and kernels contamination with deoxynivalenol (DON) and T-2 mycotoxins were determined. The influence of climatic conditions on Fusarium infections and FHB complex composition was also investigated. Fusarium species were always present in the three years and the high average and maximum temperatures during anthesis mainly favored their occurrence. The FHB complex was subject to changes during the three years and the main causal agents were F. poae, F. avenaceum, F. tricinctum and F. graminearum, which, even if constantly present, never represented the principal FHB agent. The relative incidence of Fusarium species changed because of climatic conditions occurring during the seasons. The FHB complex was composed of many different Fusarium species and some of them were associated with a specific variety and/or with specific weather parameters, indicating that the interaction between a certain plant genotype and climatic conditions may influence the presence of Fusarium spp. causing infections. With regard to mycotoxin contamination, T-2 toxin, in some cases, was found in kernels at levels that exceeded EU recommended values. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceArticle Insights into the Structure of the Vip3Aa Insecticidal Protein by Protease Digestion Analysis
Toxins 2017, 9(4), 131; doi:10.3390/toxins9040131
Received: 14 March 2017 / Revised: 28 March 2017 / Accepted: 4 April 2017 / Published: 7 April 2017
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (1780 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Vip3 proteins are secretable proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis whose mode of action is still poorly understood. In this study, the activation process for Vip3 proteins was closely examined in order to better understand the Vip3Aa protein stability and to shed light on its
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Vip3 proteins are secretable proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis whose mode of action is still poorly understood. In this study, the activation process for Vip3 proteins was closely examined in order to better understand the Vip3Aa protein stability and to shed light on its structure. The Vip3Aa protoxin (of 89 kDa) was treated with trypsin at concentrations from 1:100 to 120:100 (trypsin:Vip3A, w:w). If the action of trypsin was not properly neutralized, the results of SDS-PAGE analysis (as well as those with Agrotis ipsilon midgut juice) equivocally indicated that the protoxin could be completely processed. However, when the proteolytic reaction was efficiently stopped, it was revealed that the protoxin was only cleaved at a primary cleavage site, regardless of the amount of trypsin used. The 66 kDa and the 19 kDa peptides generated by the proteases co-eluted after gel filtration chromatography, indicating that they remain together after cleavage. The 66 kDa fragment was found to be extremely resistant to proteases. The trypsin treatment of the protoxin in the presence of SDS revealed the presence of secondary cleavage sites at S-509, and presumably at T-466 and V-372, rendering C-terminal fragments of approximately 29, 32, and 42 kDa, respectively. The fact that the predicted secondary structure of the Vip3Aa protein shows a cluster of beta sheets in the C-terminal region of the protein might be the reason behind the higher stability to proteases compared to the rest of the protein, which is mainly composed of alpha helices. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Modification of the Mycotoxin Deoxynivalenol Using Microorganisms Isolated from Environmental Samples
Toxins 2017, 9(4), 141; doi:10.3390/toxins9040141
Received: 2 March 2017 / Revised: 1 April 2017 / Accepted: 11 April 2017 / Published: 15 April 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (2320 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The trichothecene mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON) is a common contaminant of wheat, barley, and maize. New strategies are needed to reduce or eliminate DON in feed and food products. Microorganisms from plant and soil samples collected in Blacksburg, VA, USA, were screened by incubation
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The trichothecene mycotoxin deoxynivalenol (DON) is a common contaminant of wheat, barley, and maize. New strategies are needed to reduce or eliminate DON in feed and food products. Microorganisms from plant and soil samples collected in Blacksburg, VA, USA, were screened by incubation in a mineral salt media containing 100 μg/mL DON and analysis by gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC/MS). Two mixed cultures derived from soil samples consistently decreased DON levels in assays using DON as the sole carbon source. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analysis indicated that 3-keto-4-deoxynivalenol was the major by-product of DON. Via 16S rRNA sequencing, these mixed cultures, including mostly members of the genera Acinetobacter, Leadbetterella, and Gemmata, were revealed. Incubation of one of these mixed cultures with wheat samples naturally contaminated with 7.1 μg/mL DON indicated nearly complete conversion of DON to the less toxic 3-epimer-DON (3-epi-DON). Our work extends previous studies that have demonstrated the potential for bioprospecting for microorganisms from the environment to remediate or modify mycotoxins for commercial applications, such as the reduction of mycotoxins in fuel ethanol co-products. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Assessing the Efficacy of First-Aid Measures in Physalia sp. Envenomation, Using Solution- and Blood Agarose-Based Models
Toxins 2017, 9(5), 149; doi:10.3390/toxins9050149
Received: 20 March 2017 / Revised: 18 April 2017 / Accepted: 21 April 2017 / Published: 26 April 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2868 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Stings from the hydrozoan species in the genus Physalia cause intense, immediate skin pain and elicit serious systemic effects. There has been much scientific debate about the most appropriate first aid for these stings, particularly with regard to whether vinegar use is appropriate
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Stings from the hydrozoan species in the genus Physalia cause intense, immediate skin pain and elicit serious systemic effects. There has been much scientific debate about the most appropriate first aid for these stings, particularly with regard to whether vinegar use is appropriate (most current recommendations recommend against vinegar). We found that only a small percentage (≤1.0%) of tentacle cnidae discharge during a sting event using an ex vivo tissue model which elicits spontaneous stinging from live cnidarian tentacles. We then tested a variety of rinse solutions on both Atlantic and Pacific Physalia species to determine if they elicit cnidae discharge, further investigating any that did not cause immediate significant discharge to determine if they are able to inhibit cnidae discharge in response to chemical and physical stimuli. We found commercially available vinegars, as well as the recently developed Sting No More® Spray, were the most effective rinse solutions, as they irreversibly inhibited cnidae discharge. However, even slight dilution of vinegar reduced its protective effects. Alcohols and folk remedies, such as urine, baking soda and shaving cream, caused varying amounts of immediate cnidae discharge and failed to inhibit further discharge, and thus likely worsen stings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Cytotoxic Indole Alkaloid 3α-Acetonyltabersonine Induces Glioblastoma Apoptosis via Inhibition of DNA Damage Repair
Toxins 2017, 9(5), 150; doi:10.3390/toxins9050150
Received: 5 March 2017 / Revised: 16 April 2017 / Accepted: 19 April 2017 / Published: 28 April 2017
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Abstract
Cytotoxic indole alkaloids from Melodinus suaveolens, which belongs to the toxic plant family Apocynaceae, demonstrated impressive antitumor activities in many tumor types, but less application in glioblastoma, which is the lethal brain tumor. In the present study, we reported the anti-glioblastoma activity
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Cytotoxic indole alkaloids from Melodinus suaveolens, which belongs to the toxic plant family Apocynaceae, demonstrated impressive antitumor activities in many tumor types, but less application in glioblastoma, which is the lethal brain tumor. In the present study, we reported the anti-glioblastoma activity of an indole alkaloid, 3α-acetonyltabersonine, which was isolated from Melodinus suaveolens. 3α-acetonyltabersonine was cytotoxic to glioblastoma cell lines (U87 and T98G) and stem cells at low concentrations. We verified 3α-acetonyltabersonine could suppress tumor cell proliferation and cause apoptosis in glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs). Moreover, detailed investigation of transcriptome study and Western blotting analysis indicated the mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway was activated by phosphorylation upon 3α-acetonyltabersonine treatment. Additionally, we found 3α-acetonyltabersonine inhibited DNA damage repair procedures, the accumulated DNA damage stimulated activation of MAPK pathway and, finally, induced apoptosis. Further evidence was consistently obtained from vivo experiments on glioblastoma mouse model: treatment of 3α-acetonyltabersonine could exert pro-apoptotic function and prolong the life span of tumor-bearing mice. These results in vitro and in vivo suggested that 3α-acetonyltabersonine could be a potential candidate antitumor agent. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Toxins)
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceArticle Insect-Active Toxins with Promiscuous Pharmacology from the African Theraphosid Spider Monocentropus balfouri
Toxins 2017, 9(5), 155; doi:10.3390/toxins9050155
Received: 28 March 2017 / Revised: 24 April 2017 / Accepted: 28 April 2017 / Published: 5 May 2017
PDF Full-text (8776 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Many chemical insecticides are becoming less efficacious due to rising resistance in pest species, which has created much interest in the development of new, eco-friendly bioinsecticides. Since insects are the primary prey of most spiders, their venoms are a rich source of insect-active
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Many chemical insecticides are becoming less efficacious due to rising resistance in pest species, which has created much interest in the development of new, eco-friendly bioinsecticides. Since insects are the primary prey of most spiders, their venoms are a rich source of insect-active peptides that can be used as leads for new bioinsecticides or as tools to study molecular receptors that are insecticidal targets. In the present study, we isolated two insecticidal peptides, µ/ω-TRTX-Mb1a and -Mb1b, from venom of the African tarantula Monocentropus balfouri. Recombinant µ/ω-TRTX-Mb1a and -Mb1b paralyzed both Lucilia cuprina (Australian sheep blowfly) and Musca domestica (housefly), but neither peptide affected larvae of Helicoverpa armigera (cotton bollworms). Both peptides inhibited currents mediated by voltage-gated sodium (NaV) and calcium channels in Periplaneta americana (American cockroach) dorsal unpaired median neurons, and they also inhibited the cloned Blattella germanica (German cockroach) NaV channel (BgNaV1). An additional effect seen only with Mb1a on BgNaV1 was a delay in fast inactivation. Comparison of the NaV channel sequences of the tested insect species revealed that variations in the S1–S2 loops in the voltage sensor domains might underlie the differences in activity between different phyla. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceArticle Third Generation Antivenomics: Pushing the Limits of the In Vitro Preclinical Assessment of Antivenoms
Toxins 2017, 9(5), 158; doi:10.3390/toxins9050158
Received: 20 April 2017 / Revised: 5 May 2017 / Accepted: 5 May 2017 / Published: 10 May 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2352 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Second generation antivenomics is a translational venomics approach designed to complement in vivo preclinical neutralization assays. It provides qualitative and quantitative information on the set of homologous and heterologous venom proteins presenting antivenom-recognized epitopes and those exhibiting impaired immunoreactivity. In a situation of
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Second generation antivenomics is a translational venomics approach designed to complement in vivo preclinical neutralization assays. It provides qualitative and quantitative information on the set of homologous and heterologous venom proteins presenting antivenom-recognized epitopes and those exhibiting impaired immunoreactivity. In a situation of worrying antivenom shortage in many tropical and sub-tropical regions with high snakebite mortality and morbidity rates, such knowledge has the potential to facilitate the optimal deployment of currently existing antivenoms and to aid in the rational design of novel broad specificity antidotes. The aim of the present work was to expand the analytical capability of the immunoaffinity second-generation antivenomics platform, endowing it with the ability to determine the maximal binding capacity of an antivenom toward the different toxins present in a venom, and to quantify the fraction of venom-specific antibodies present in a given antivenom. The application of this new platform, termed third generation (3G) antivenomics, in the preclinical evaluation of antivenoms is illustrated in this paper for the case of antivenom EchiTAb-Plus-ICP® reactivity towards the toxins of homologous (B. arietans) and heterologous (N. melanoleuca) venoms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Use of Antibodies/Antivenom Against Envenoming)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle The Vip3Ag4 Insecticidal Protoxin from Bacillus thuringiensis Adopts A Tetrameric Configuration That Is Maintained on Proteolysis
Toxins 2017, 9(5), 165; doi:10.3390/toxins9050165
Received: 17 January 2017 / Revised: 11 May 2017 / Accepted: 12 May 2017 / Published: 14 May 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (3160 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The Vip3 proteins produced during vegetative growth by strains of the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis show insecticidal activity against lepidopteran insects with a mechanism of action that may involve pore formation and apoptosis. These proteins are promising supplements to our arsenal of insecticidal proteins,
[...] Read more.
The Vip3 proteins produced during vegetative growth by strains of the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis show insecticidal activity against lepidopteran insects with a mechanism of action that may involve pore formation and apoptosis. These proteins are promising supplements to our arsenal of insecticidal proteins, but the molecular details of their activity are not understood. As a first step in the structural characterisation of these proteins, we have analysed their secondary structure and resolved the surface topology of a tetrameric complex of the Vip3Ag4 protein by transmission electron microscopy. Sites sensitive to proteolysis by trypsin are identified and the trypsin-cleaved protein appears to retain a similar structure as an octomeric complex comprising four copies each of the ~65 kDa and ~21 kDa products of proteolysis. This processed form of the toxin may represent the active toxin. The quality and monodispersity of the protein produced in this study make Vip3Ag4 a candidate for more detailed structural analysis using cryo-electron microscopy. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Coagulating Colubrids: Evolutionary, Pathophysiological and Biodiscovery Implications of Venom Variations between Boomslang (Dispholidus typus) and Twig Snake (Thelotornis mossambicanus)
Toxins 2017, 9(5), 171; doi:10.3390/toxins9050171
Received: 16 January 2017 / Revised: 15 May 2017 / Accepted: 15 May 2017 / Published: 19 May 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (5755 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Venoms can deleteriously affect any physiological system reachable by the bloodstream, including directly interfering with the coagulation cascade. Such coagulopathic toxins may be anticoagulants or procoagulants. Snake venoms are unique in their use of procoagulant toxins for predatory purposes. The boomslang (Dispholidus
[...] Read more.
Venoms can deleteriously affect any physiological system reachable by the bloodstream, including directly interfering with the coagulation cascade. Such coagulopathic toxins may be anticoagulants or procoagulants. Snake venoms are unique in their use of procoagulant toxins for predatory purposes. The boomslang (Dispholidus typus) and the twig snakes (Thelotornis species) are iconic African snakes belonging to the family Colubridae. Both species produce strikingly similar lethal procoagulant pathologies. Despite these similarities, antivenom is only produced for treating bites by D. typus, and the mechanisms of action of both venoms have been understudied. In this study, we investigated the venom of D. typus and T. mossambicanus utilising a range of proteomic and bioactivity approaches, including determining the procoagulant properties of both venoms in relation to the human coagulation pathways. In doing so, we developed a novel procoagulant assay, utilising a Stago STA-R Max analyser, to accurately detect real time clotting in plasma at varying concentrations of venom. This approach was used to assess the clotting capabilities of the two venoms both with and without calcium and phospholipid co-factors. We found that T. mossambicanus produced a significantly stronger coagulation response compared to D. typus. Functional enzyme assays showed that T. mossambicanus also exhibited a higher metalloprotease and phospholipase activity but had a much lower serine protease activity relative to D. typus venom. The neutralising capability of the available boomslang antivenom was also investigated on both species, with it being 11.3 times more effective upon D. typus venom than T. mossambicanus. In addition to being a faster clotting venom, T. mossambicanus was revealed to be a much more complex venom composition than D. typus. This is consistent with patterns seen for other snakes with venom complexity linked to dietary complexity. Consistent with the external morphological differences in head shape between the two species, CT and MRI analyses revealed significant internal structural differences in skull architecture and venom gland anatomy. This study increases our understanding of not only the biodiscovery potential of these medically important species but also increases our knowledge of the pathological relationship between venom and the human coagulation cascade. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Venom On-a-Chip: A Fast and Efficient Method for Comparative Venomics
Toxins 2017, 9(6), 179; doi:10.3390/toxins9060179
Received: 20 April 2017 / Revised: 23 May 2017 / Accepted: 24 May 2017 / Published: 28 May 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2919 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Venom research has attracted an increasing interest in disparate fields, from drug development and pharmacology, to evolutionary biology and ecology, and rational antivenom production. Advances in “-omics” technologies have allowed the characterization of an increasing number of animal venoms, but the methodology currently
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Venom research has attracted an increasing interest in disparate fields, from drug development and pharmacology, to evolutionary biology and ecology, and rational antivenom production. Advances in “-omics” technologies have allowed the characterization of an increasing number of animal venoms, but the methodology currently available is suboptimal for large-scale comparisons of venom profiles. Here, we describe a fast, reproducible and semi-automated protocol for investigating snake venom variability, especially at the intraspecific level, using the Agilent Bioanalyzer on-chip technology. Our protocol generated a phenotype matrix which can be used for robust statistical analysis and correlations of venom variation with ecological correlates, or other extrinsic factors. We also demonstrate the ease and utility of combining on-chip technology with previously fractionated venoms for detection of specific individual toxin proteins. Our study describes a novel strategy for rapid venom discrimination and analysis of compositional variation at multiple taxonomic levels, allowing researchers to tackle evolutionary questions and unveiling the drivers of the incredible biodiversity of venoms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Presence of Enniatins and Beauvericin in Romanian Wheat Samples: From Raw Material to Products for Direct Human Consumption
Toxins 2017, 9(6), 189; doi:10.3390/toxins9060189
Received: 3 May 2017 / Revised: 1 June 2017 / Accepted: 6 June 2017 / Published: 12 June 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (936 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this study, a total of 244 wheat and wheat-based products collected from Romania were analyzed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) in order to evaluate the presence of four enniatins (ENs; i.e., ENA, ENA1, ENB, and ENB1) and beauvericin (BEA). For
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In this study, a total of 244 wheat and wheat-based products collected from Romania were analyzed by liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) in order to evaluate the presence of four enniatins (ENs; i.e., ENA, ENA1, ENB, and ENB1) and beauvericin (BEA). For the wheat samples, the influence of agricultural practices was assessed, whereas the results for the wheat-based products were used to calculate the estimated daily intake of emerging mycotoxins through wheat consumption for the Romanian population. ENB presented the highest incidence (41% in wheat and 32% in wheat-based products), with its maximum levels of 815 μg kg−1 and 170 μg kg−1 in wheat and wheat-based products, respectively. The correlation between the concentrations of ENB and ENB1 in wheat grain samples and farm practices (organic or conventional) was confirmed statistically (p < 0.05). This is the first study that provides comprehensive information about the influence of agricultural practice on emerging Fusarium mycotoxin presence in Romanian wheat samples and the estimated daily intake of ENs and BEA present in wheat-based products for human consumption commercialized in Romania. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Understanding Mycotoxin Occurrence in Food and Feed Chains)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Prevalence, Variability and Bioconcentration of Saxitoxin-Group in Different Marine Species Present in the Food Chain
Toxins 2017, 9(6), 190; doi:10.3390/toxins9060190
Received: 17 May 2017 / Revised: 7 June 2017 / Accepted: 8 June 2017 / Published: 12 June 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (4314 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The saxitoxin-group (STX-group) corresponds to toxic metabolites produced by cyanobacteria and dinoflagellates of the genera Alexandrium, Gymnodinium, and Pyrodinium. Over the last decade, it has been possible to extrapolate the areas contaminated with the STX-group worldwide, including Chile, a phenomenon that
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The saxitoxin-group (STX-group) corresponds to toxic metabolites produced by cyanobacteria and dinoflagellates of the genera Alexandrium, Gymnodinium, and Pyrodinium. Over the last decade, it has been possible to extrapolate the areas contaminated with the STX-group worldwide, including Chile, a phenomenon that has affected ≈35% of the Southern Pacific coast territory, generating a high economic impact. The objective of this research was to study the toxicity of the STX-group in all aquatic organisms (bivalves, algae, echinoderms, crustaceans, tunicates, cephalopods, gastropods, and fish) present in areas with a variable presence of harmful algal blooms (HABs). Then, the toxic profiles of each species and dose of STX equivalents ingested by a 60 kg person from 400 g of shellfish were determined to establish the health risk assessment. The toxins with the highest prevalence detected were gonyautoxin-4/1 (GTX4/GTX1), gonyautoxin-3/2 (GTX3/GTX2), neosaxitoxin (neoSTX), decarbamoylsaxitoxin (dcSTX), and saxitoxin (STX), with average concentrations of 400, 2800, 280, 200, and 2000 µg kg−1 respectively, a species-specific variability, dependent on the evaluated tissue, which demonstrates the biotransformation of the analogues in the trophic transfer with a predominance of α-epimers in all toxic profiles. The identification in multiple vectors, as well as in unregulated species, suggests that a risk assessment and risk management update are required; also, chemical and specific analyses for the detection of all analogues associated with the STX-group need to be established. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Public Health Outreach to Prevention of Aquatic Toxin Exposure)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Evaluation of Cyanea capillata Sting Management Protocols Using Ex Vivo and In Vitro Envenomation Models
Toxins 2017, 9(7), 215; doi:10.3390/toxins9070215
Received: 2 June 2017 / Revised: 27 June 2017 / Accepted: 3 July 2017 / Published: 7 July 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (5645 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Lion’s mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata) stings cause severe pain and can lead to dangerous systemic effects, including Irukandji-like syndrome. As is the case for most cnidarian stings, recommended medical protocols in response to such stings lack rigorous scientific support. In this
[...] Read more.
Lion’s mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata) stings cause severe pain and can lead to dangerous systemic effects, including Irukandji-like syndrome. As is the case for most cnidarian stings, recommended medical protocols in response to such stings lack rigorous scientific support. In this study, we sought to evaluate potential first aid care protocols using previously described envenomation models that allow for direct measurements of venom activity. We found that seawater rinsing, the most commonly recommended method of tentacle removal for this species, induced significant increases in venom delivery, while rinsing with vinegar or Sting No More® Spray did not. Post-sting temperature treatments affected sting severity, with 40 min of hot-pack treatment reducing lysis of sheep’s blood (in agar plates), a direct representation of venom load, by over 90%. Ice pack treatment had no effect on sting severity. These results indicate that sting management protocols for Cyanea need to be revised immediately to discontinue rinsing with seawater and include the use of heat treatment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle The Mode of Action of Cyclo(l-Ala-l-Pro) in Inhibiting Aflatoxin Production of Aspergillus flavus
Toxins 2017, 9(7), 219; doi:10.3390/toxins9070219
Received: 21 June 2017 / Accepted: 11 July 2017 / Published: 12 July 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1651 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Cyclo(l-Ala-l-Pro) inhibits aflatoxin production in aflatoxigenic fungi without affecting fungal growth. The mode of action of cyclo(l-Ala-l-Pro) in inhibiting aflatoxin production of Aspergillus flavus was investigated. A glutathione S-transferase (GST) of the fungus, designated
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Cyclo(l-Ala-l-Pro) inhibits aflatoxin production in aflatoxigenic fungi without affecting fungal growth. The mode of action of cyclo(l-Ala-l-Pro) in inhibiting aflatoxin production of Aspergillus flavus was investigated. A glutathione S-transferase (GST) of the fungus, designated AfGST, was identified as a binding protein of cyclo(l-Ala-l-Pro) in an experiment performed using cyclo(l-Ala-l-Pro)-immobilized Sepharose beads. Cyclo(l-Ala-l-Pro) specifically bound to recombinant AfGST and inhibited its GST activity. Ethacrynic acid, a known GST inhibitor, inhibited the GST activity of recombinant AfGST and aflatoxin production of the fungus. Ethacrynic acid reduced the expression level of AflR, a key regulatory protein for aflatoxin production, similar to cyclo(l-Ala-l-Pro). These results suggest that cyclo(l-Ala-l-Pro) inhibits aflatoxin production by affecting GST function in A. flavus, and that AfGST inhibitors are possible candidates as selective aflatoxin production inhibitors. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Aflatoxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Venomics of Remipede Crustaceans Reveals Novel Peptide Diversity and Illuminates the Venom’s Biological Role
Toxins 2017, 9(8), 234; doi:10.3390/toxins9080234
Received: 27 June 2017 / Accepted: 24 July 2017 / Published: 26 July 2017
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Abstract
We report the first integrated proteomic and transcriptomic investigation of a crustacean venom. Remipede crustaceans are the venomous sister group of hexapods, and the venom glands of the remipede Xibalbanus tulumensis express a considerably more complex cocktail of proteins and peptides than previously
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We report the first integrated proteomic and transcriptomic investigation of a crustacean venom. Remipede crustaceans are the venomous sister group of hexapods, and the venom glands of the remipede Xibalbanus tulumensis express a considerably more complex cocktail of proteins and peptides than previously thought. We identified 32 venom protein families, including 13 novel peptide families that we name xibalbins, four of which lack similarities to any known structural class. Our proteomic data confirm the presence in the venom of 19 of the 32 families. The most highly expressed venom components are serine peptidases, chitinase and six of the xibalbins. The xibalbins represent Inhibitory Cystine Knot peptides (ICK), a double ICK peptide, peptides with a putative Cystine-stabilized α-helix/β-sheet motif, a peptide similar to hairpin-like β-sheet forming antimicrobial peptides, two peptides related to different hormone families, and four peptides with unique structural motifs. Remipede venom components represent the full range of evolutionary recruitment frequencies, from families that have been recruited into many animal venoms (serine peptidases, ICKs), to those having a very narrow taxonomic range (double ICKs), to those unique for remipedes. We discuss the most highly expressed venom components to shed light on their possible functional significance in the predatory and defensive use of remipede venom, and to provide testable ideas for any future bioactivity studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Analysis of the Masked Metabolite of Deoxynivalenol and Fusarium Resistance in CIMMYT Wheat Germplasm
Toxins 2017, 9(8), 238; doi:10.3390/toxins9080238
Received: 15 June 2017 / Revised: 26 July 2017 / Accepted: 27 July 2017 / Published: 29 July 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1872 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Fusarium head blight (FHB) causes significant grain loss and contamination of grains with harmful mycotoxins, especially deoxynivalenol (DON). Fusarium resistance and DON accumulation have been extensively investigated in various cultivars; however, the level of DON-3-O-glucoside (D3G) has not been as carefully
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Fusarium head blight (FHB) causes significant grain loss and contamination of grains with harmful mycotoxins, especially deoxynivalenol (DON). Fusarium resistance and DON accumulation have been extensively investigated in various cultivars; however, the level of DON-3-O-glucoside (D3G) has not been as carefully studied. In this study, we measured accumulated DON and D3G levels in CIMMYT wheat elite germplasm using an analytical method validated in-house. Co-occurring nivalenol (NIV) and ergostrerol (ERG) were also analyzed. LC-MS/MS and LC-UV analyses were applied to the 50 CIMMYT elite wheat lines. D3G showed rather high correlation with DON (r = 0.82), while FHB symptoms showed slight correlation with DON and D3G (r = 0.36 and 0.32, respectively). D3G/DON ratio varied widely from 8.1 to 37.7%, and the ratio was not related with FHB resistance in this dataset. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Understanding Mycotoxin Occurrence in Food and Feed Chains)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Insights into the Mechanisms Involved in Strong Hemorrhage and Dermonecrosis Induced by Atroxlysin-Ia, a PI-Class Snake Venom Metalloproteinase
Toxins 2017, 9(8), 239; doi:10.3390/toxins9080239
Received: 30 June 2017 / Revised: 28 July 2017 / Accepted: 29 July 2017 / Published: 2 August 2017
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Abstract
Hemorrhage is the most prominent effect of snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs) in human envenomation. The capillary injury is a multifactorial effect caused by hydrolysis of the components of the basement membrane (BM). The PI and PIII classes of SVMPs are abundant in viperid
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Hemorrhage is the most prominent effect of snake venom metalloproteinases (SVMPs) in human envenomation. The capillary injury is a multifactorial effect caused by hydrolysis of the components of the basement membrane (BM). The PI and PIII classes of SVMPs are abundant in viperid venoms and hydrolyze BM components. However, hemorrhage is associated mostly with PIII-class SVMPs that contain non-catalytic domains responsible for the binding of SVMPs to BM proteins, facilitating enzyme accumulation in the tissue and enhancing its catalytic efficiency. Here we report on Atroxlysin-Ia, a PI-class SVMP that induces hemorrhagic lesions in levels comparable to those induced by Batroxrhagin (PIII-class), and a unique SVMP effect characterized by the rapid onset of dermonecrotic lesions. Atroxlysin-Ia was purified from B. atrox venom, and sequence analyses indicated that it is devoid of non-catalytic domains and unable to bind to BM proteins as collagen IV and laminin in vitro or in vivo. The presence of Atroxlysin-Ia was diffuse in mice skin, and localized mainly in the epidermis with no co-localization with BM components. Nevertheless, the skin lesions induced by Atroxlysin-Ia were comparable to those induced by Batroxrhagin, with induction of leukocyte infiltrates and hemorrhagic areas soon after toxin injection. Detachment of the epidermis was more intense in skin injected with Atroxlysin-Ia. Comparing the catalytic activity of both toxins, Batroxrhagin was more active in the hydrolysis of a peptide substrate while Atroxlysin-Ia hydrolyzed more efficiently fibrin, laminin, collagen IV and nidogen. Thus, the results suggest that Atroxlysin-Ia bypasses the binding step to BM proteins, essential for hemorrhagic lesions induced by PII- and P-III class SVMPs, causing a significantly fast onset of hemorrhage and dermonecrosis, due to its higher proteolytic capacity on BM components. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Enter the Dragon: The Dynamic and Multifunctional Evolution of Anguimorpha Lizard Venoms
Toxins 2017, 9(8), 242; doi:10.3390/toxins9080242
Received: 5 June 2017 / Revised: 4 August 2017 / Accepted: 4 August 2017 / Published: 6 August 2017
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Abstract
While snake venoms have been the subject of intense study, comparatively little work has been done on lizard venoms. In this study, we have examined the structural and functional diversification of anguimorph lizard venoms and associated toxins, and related these results to dentition
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While snake venoms have been the subject of intense study, comparatively little work has been done on lizard venoms. In this study, we have examined the structural and functional diversification of anguimorph lizard venoms and associated toxins, and related these results to dentition and predatory ecology. Venom composition was shown to be highly variable across the 20 species of Heloderma, Lanthanotus, and Varanus included in our study. While kallikrein enzymes were ubiquitous, they were also a particularly multifunctional toxin type, with differential activities on enzyme substrates and also ability to degrade alpha or beta chains of fibrinogen that reflects structural variability. Examination of other toxin types also revealed similar variability in their presence and activity levels. The high level of venom chemistry variation in varanid lizards compared to that of helodermatid lizards suggests that venom may be subject to different selection pressures in these two families. These results not only contribute to our understanding of venom evolution but also reveal anguimorph lizard venoms to be rich sources of novel bioactive molecules with potential as drug design and development lead compounds. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Evolution of Venom Systems)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Enzymatic and Pro-Inflammatory Activities of Bothrops lanceolatus Venom: Relevance for Envenomation
Toxins 2017, 9(8), 244; doi:10.3390/toxins9080244
Received: 2 July 2017 / Revised: 27 July 2017 / Accepted: 31 July 2017 / Published: 7 August 2017
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Abstract
Bothrops lanceolatus, commonly named ‘Fer-de-Lance’, is an endemic snake of the French Caribbean Island of Martinique. Envenomations by B. lanceolatus present clinical aspects characterized by systemic thrombotic syndrome and important local inflammation, involving edema and pain but limited hemorrhage. To investigate mechanisms
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Bothrops lanceolatus, commonly named ‘Fer-de-Lance’, is an endemic snake of the French Caribbean Island of Martinique. Envenomations by B. lanceolatus present clinical aspects characterized by systemic thrombotic syndrome and important local inflammation, involving edema and pain but limited hemorrhage. To investigate mechanisms of venom-induced inflammation, B. lanceolatus venom was characterized, its cross-reactivity with bothropic antivenom explored, its cytotoxicity on human keratinocytes and vascular cells, and the production of cytokines and chemokines were analyzed. We used electrophoretic separation, zymography, colorimetric or fluorimetric enzymatic assays, and immunochemical assays. Therapeutic South American bothropic antivenom cross-reacted with B. lanceolatus venom and completely or partially abolished its PLA2, hyaluronidase, and proteolytic activities, as well as its cytotoxicity for keratinocytes. The substrate specificity of B. lanceolatus venom proteases was emphasized. B. lanceolatus venom cytotoxicity was compared to the B. jararaca venom. Both venoms were highly cytotoxic for keratinocytes (HaCaT), whereas B. lanceolatus venom showed particularly low toxicity for endothelial cells (EAhy926). Patterns of cytokine and chemokine production by cells exposed to the venoms were highly pro-inflammatory. Thus, the results presented here show that B. lanceolatus venom toxins share important antigenic similarities with South American Bothrops species toxins, although their proteases have acquired particular substrate specificity. Moreover, the venom displays important cytotoxic and pro-inflammatory action on human cell types such as keratinocytes and endothelial cells, which are important players in the local and systemic compartments affected by the envenomation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Chemical Identity of Interaction of Protein with Reactive Metabolite of Diosbulbin B In Vitro and In Vivo
Toxins 2017, 9(8), 249; doi:10.3390/toxins9080249
Received: 10 July 2017 / Revised: 24 July 2017 / Accepted: 28 July 2017 / Published: 14 August 2017
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Abstract
Diosbulbin B (DIOB), a hepatotoxic furan-containing compound, is a primary ingredient in Dioscorea bulbifera L., a common herbal medicine. Metabolic activation is required for DIOB-induced liver injury. Protein covalent binding of an electrophilic reactive intermediate of DIOB is considered to be one of
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Diosbulbin B (DIOB), a hepatotoxic furan-containing compound, is a primary ingredient in Dioscorea bulbifera L., a common herbal medicine. Metabolic activation is required for DIOB-induced liver injury. Protein covalent binding of an electrophilic reactive intermediate of DIOB is considered to be one of the key mechanisms of cytotoxicity. A bromine-based analytical technique was developed to characterize the chemical identity of interaction of protein with reactive intermediate of DIOB. Cysteine (Cys) and lysine (Lys) residues were found to react with the reactive intermediate to form three types of protein modification, including Cys adduction, Schiff’s base, and Cys/Lys crosslink. The crosslink showed time- and dose-dependence in animals given DIOB. Ketoconazole pretreatment decreased the formation of the crosslink derived from DIOB, whereas pretreatment with dexamethasone or buthionine sulfoximine increased such protein modification. These data revealed that the levels of hepatic protein adductions were proportional to the severity of hepatotoxicity of DIOB. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Toxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Orally Delivered Scorpion Antimicrobial Peptides Exhibit Activity against Pea Aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) and Its Bacterial Symbionts
Toxins 2017, 9(9), 261; doi:10.3390/toxins9090261
Received: 4 July 2017 / Revised: 3 August 2017 / Accepted: 22 August 2017 / Published: 24 August 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (3239 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Aphids are severe agricultural pests that damage crops by feeding on phloem sap and vectoring plant pathogens. Chemical insecticides provide an important aphid control strategy, but alternative and sustainable control measures are required to avoid rapidly emerging resistance, environmental contamination, and the risk
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Aphids are severe agricultural pests that damage crops by feeding on phloem sap and vectoring plant pathogens. Chemical insecticides provide an important aphid control strategy, but alternative and sustainable control measures are required to avoid rapidly emerging resistance, environmental contamination, and the risk to humans and beneficial organisms. Aphids are dependent on bacterial symbionts, which enable them to survive on phloem sap lacking essential nutrients, as well as conferring environmental stress tolerance and resistance to parasites. The evolution of aphids has been accompanied by the loss of many immunity-related genes, such as those encoding antibacterial peptides, which are prevalent in other insects, probably because any harm to the bacterial symbionts would inevitably affect the aphids themselves. This suggests that antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) could replace or at least complement conventional insecticides for aphid control. We fed the pea aphids (Acyrthosiphon pisum) with AMPs from the venom glands of scorpions. The AMPs reduced aphid survival, delayed their reproduction, displayed in vitro activity against aphid bacterial symbionts, and reduced the number of symbionts in vivo. Remarkably, we found that some of the scorpion AMPs compromised the aphid bacteriome, a specialized organ that harbours bacterial symbionts. Our data suggest that scorpion AMPs holds the potential to be developed as bio-insecticides, and are promising candidates for the engineering of aphid-resistant crops. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Listeriolysin O Regulates the Expression of Optineurin, an Autophagy Adaptor That Inhibits the Growth of Listeria monocytogenes
Toxins 2017, 9(9), 273; doi:10.3390/toxins9090273
Received: 31 July 2017 / Revised: 31 August 2017 / Accepted: 2 September 2017 / Published: 5 September 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1820 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Autophagy, a well-established defense mechanism, enables the elimination of intracellular pathogens including Listeria monocytogenes. Host cell recognition results in ubiquitination of L. monocytogenes and interaction with autophagy adaptors p62/SQSTM1 and NDP52, which target bacteria to autophagosomes by binding to microtubule-associated protein
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Autophagy, a well-established defense mechanism, enables the elimination of intracellular pathogens including Listeria monocytogenes. Host cell recognition results in ubiquitination of L. monocytogenes and interaction with autophagy adaptors p62/SQSTM1 and NDP52, which target bacteria to autophagosomes by binding to microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (LC3). Although studies have indicated that L. monocytogenes induces autophagy, the significance of this process in the infectious cycle and the mechanisms involved remain poorly understood. Here, we examined the role of the autophagy adaptor optineurin (OPTN), the phosphorylation of which by the TANK binding kinase 1 (TBK1) enhances its affinity for LC3 and promotes autophagosomal degradation, during L. monocytogenes infection. In LC3- and OPTN-depleted host cells, intracellular replicating L. monocytogenes increased, an effect not seen with a mutant lacking the pore-forming toxin listeriolysin O (LLO). LLO induced the production of OPTN. In host cells expressing an inactive TBK1, bacterial replication was also inhibited. Our studies have uncovered an OPTN-dependent pathway in which L. monocytogenes uses LLO to restrict bacterial growth. Hence, manipulation of autophagy by L. monocytogenes, either through induction or evasion, represents a key event in its intracellular life style and could lead to either cytosolic growth or persistence in intracellular vacuolar structures. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Typhonium giganteum Lectin Exerts A Pro-Inflammatory Effect on RAW 264.7 via ROS and The NF-κB Signaling Pathway
Toxins 2017, 9(9), 275; doi:10.3390/toxins9090275
Received: 8 August 2017 / Revised: 4 September 2017 / Accepted: 5 September 2017 / Published: 7 September 2017
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Abstract
Typhonii rhizoma, a widely used herb in traditional Chinese medicine, has acute irritating toxicity related to Typhonium giganteum lectin (TGL). TGL exhibits acute inflammatory effects, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are largely unknown. This paper is designed to assess the pro-inflammatory response
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Typhonii rhizoma, a widely used herb in traditional Chinese medicine, has acute irritating toxicity related to Typhonium giganteum lectin (TGL). TGL exhibits acute inflammatory effects, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are largely unknown. This paper is designed to assess the pro-inflammatory response of TGL on RAW 264.7 cells. RAW 264.7 treated with 6.25, 12.5, 25, and 50 µg/mL TGL showed elevated levels of inflammatory factors (TNF-α, IL-1β) and of p-IκB and p-p65, all dose-dependent, indicating that TGL had a substantial inflammatory effect and mobilized the nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) pathway. All four TGL treatments also induced the up-regulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and cytosolic free Ca2+ and down-regulation of mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP). The production of cytokines and p-IκB, p-p65 were reduced by N-acetylcysteine (NAC), an ROS scavenger, which somewhat abrogated ROS production. The results showed the TGL-activated inflammatory signaling pathway NF-κB to be associated with the overproduction of ROS. Moreover, 50 μg/mL treatment with TGL led to cell apoptosis after 1 h and increased necrosis over time. These results provided potential molecular mechanisms for the observed inflammatory response to TGL including up-regulation of ROS and cytosolic free Ca2+, down-regulation of MMP, the mobilization of the NF-κB pathway, and the subsequent overproduction of pro-inflammatory factors resulting in apoptosis. Long-term stimulation with TGL resulted in strong toxic effects related to inflammation that induced necrosis in macrophages. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Toxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle α-Conotoxin Decontamination Protocol Evaluation: What Works and What Doesn’t
Toxins 2017, 9(9), 281; doi:10.3390/toxins9090281
Received: 11 August 2017 / Revised: 4 September 2017 / Accepted: 9 September 2017 / Published: 14 September 2017
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Abstract
Nine publically available biosafety protocols for safely handling conotoxin peptides were tested to evaluate their decontamination efficacy. Circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy and mass spectrometry (MS) were used to assess the effect of each chemical treatment on the secondary and primary structure of α-CTx
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Nine publically available biosafety protocols for safely handling conotoxin peptides were tested to evaluate their decontamination efficacy. Circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy and mass spectrometry (MS) were used to assess the effect of each chemical treatment on the secondary and primary structure of α-CTx MII (L10V, E11A). Of the nine decontamination methods tested, treatment with 1% (m/v) solution of the enzymatic detergent Contrex™ EZ resulted in a 76.8% decrease in α-helical content as assessed by the mean residue ellipticity at 222 nm, and partial peptide digestion was demonstrated using high performance liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS). Additionally, treatment with 6% sodium hypochlorite (m/v) resulted in 80.5% decrease in α-helical content and complete digestion of the peptide. The Contrex™ EZ treatment was repeated with three additional α-conotoxins (α-CTxs), α-CTxs LvIA, ImI and PeIA, which verified the decontamination method was reasonably robust. These results support the use of either 1% Contrex™ EZ solution or 6% sodium hypochlorite in biosafety protocols for the decontamination of α-CTxs in research laboratories. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Marine and Freshwater Toxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Antiallodynic Effects of Bee Venom in an Animal Model of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type 1 (CRPS-I)
Toxins 2017, 9(9), 285; doi:10.3390/toxins9090285
Received: 25 August 2017 / Revised: 11 September 2017 / Accepted: 13 September 2017 / Published: 15 September 2017
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Abstract
Neuropathic pain in a chronic post-ischaemic pain (CPIP) model mimics the symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome type I (CRPS I). The administration of bee venom (BV) has been utilized in Eastern medicine to treat chronic inflammatory diseases accompanying pain. However, the analgesic
[...] Read more.
Neuropathic pain in a chronic post-ischaemic pain (CPIP) model mimics the symptoms of complex regional pain syndrome type I (CRPS I). The administration of bee venom (BV) has been utilized in Eastern medicine to treat chronic inflammatory diseases accompanying pain. However, the analgesic effect of BV in a CPIP model remains unknown. The application of a tight-fitting O-ring around the left ankle for a period of 3 h generated CPIP in C57/Bl6 male adult mice. BV (1 mg/kg ; 1, 2, and 3 times) was administered into the SC layer of the hind paw, and the antiallodynic effects were investigated using the von Frey test and by measuring the expression of neurokinin type 1 (NK-1) receptors in dorsal root ganglia (DRG). The administration of BV dose-dependently reduced the pain withdrawal threshold to mechanical stimuli compared with the pre-administration value and with that of the control group. After the development of the CPIP model, the expression of NK-1 receptors in DRG increased and then decreased following the administration of BV. SC administration of BV results in the attenuation of allodynia in a mouse model of CPIP. The antiallodynic effect was objectively proven through a reduction in the increased expression of NK-1 receptors in DRG. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxins in Drug Discovery and Pharmacology)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Evidence for Complex Formation of the Bacillus cereus Haemolysin BL Components in Solution
Toxins 2017, 9(9), 288; doi:10.3390/toxins9090288
Received: 16 August 2017 / Revised: 11 September 2017 / Accepted: 12 September 2017 / Published: 16 September 2017
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Abstract
Haemolysin BL is an important virulence factor regarding the diarrheal type of food poisoning caused by Bacillus cereus. However, the pathogenic importance of this three-component enterotoxin is difficult to access, as nearly all natural B. cereus culture supernatants additionally contain the highly
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Haemolysin BL is an important virulence factor regarding the diarrheal type of food poisoning caused by Bacillus cereus. However, the pathogenic importance of this three-component enterotoxin is difficult to access, as nearly all natural B. cereus culture supernatants additionally contain the highly cytotoxic Nhe, the second three-component toxin involved in the aetiology of B. cereus-induced food-borne diseases. To better address the toxic properties of the Hbl complex, a system for overexpression and purification of functional, cytotoxic, recombinant (r)Hbl components L2, L1 and B from E. coli was established and an nheABC deletion mutant was constructed from B. cereus reference strain F837/76. Furthermore, 35 hybridoma cell lines producing monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against Hbl L2, L1 and B were generated. While mAbs 1H9 and 1D8 neutralized Hbl toxicity and thus, represent important tools for future investigations of the mode-of-action of Hbl on the target cell surface, mAb 1D7, in contrast, even enhanced Hbl toxicity by supporting the binding of Hbl B to the cell surface. By using the specific mAbs in Dot blots, indirect and hybrid sandwich enzyme immuno assays (EIAs), complex formation between Hbl L1 and B, as well as L1 and L2 in solution could be shown for the first time. Surface plasmon resonance experiments with the rHbl components confirmed these results with KD values of 4.7 × 10−7 M and 1.5 × 10−7 M, respectively. These findings together with the newly created tools lay the foundation for the detailed elucidation of the molecular mode-of-action of the highly complex three-component Hbl toxin. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry for Metabolite Profiling of Japanese Black Cattle Naturally Contaminated with Zearalenone and Sterigmatocystin
Toxins 2017, 9(10), 294; doi:10.3390/toxins9100294
Received: 1 May 2017 / Revised: 14 September 2017 / Accepted: 18 September 2017 / Published: 21 September 2017
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Abstract
The objective of this study was to evaluate the metabolic profile of cattle fed with or without zearalenone (ZEN) and sterigmatocystin (STC)-contaminated diets using a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry metabolomics approach. Urinary samples were collected from individual animals (n = 6 per herd)
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The objective of this study was to evaluate the metabolic profile of cattle fed with or without zearalenone (ZEN) and sterigmatocystin (STC)-contaminated diets using a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry metabolomics approach. Urinary samples were collected from individual animals (n = 6 per herd) from fattening female Japanese Black (JB) cattle herds (23 months old, 550–600 kg). Herd 1 had persistently high urinary ZEN and STC concentrations due to the presence of contaminated rice straw. Herd 2, the second female JB fattening herd (23 months old, 550–600 kg), received the same dietary feed as Herd 1, with non-contaminated rice straw. Urine samples were collected from Herd 1, two weeks after the contaminated rice straw was replaced with uncontaminated rice straw (Herd 1N). Identified metabolites were subjected to principal component analysis (PCA) and ANOVA. The PCA revealed that the effects on cattle metabolites depended on ZEN and STC concentrations. The contamination of cattle feed with multiple mycotoxins may alter systemic metabolic processes, including metabolites associated with ATP generation, amino acids, glycine-conjugates, organic acids, and purine bases. The results obtained from Herd 1N indicate that a two-week remedy period was not sufficient to improve the levels of urinary metabolites, suggesting that chronic contamination with mycotoxins may have long-term harmful effects on the systemic metabolism of cattle. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Fusarium Toxins – Relevance for Human and Animal Health)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Asymmetric Cryo-EM Structure of Anthrax Toxin Protective Antigen Pore with Lethal Factor N-Terminal Domain
Toxins 2017, 9(10), 298; doi:10.3390/toxins9100298
Received: 17 August 2017 / Revised: 18 September 2017 / Accepted: 19 September 2017 / Published: 22 September 2017
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Abstract
The anthrax lethal toxin consists of protective antigen (PA) and lethal factor (LF). Understanding both the PA pore formation and LF translocation through the PA pore is crucial to mitigating and perhaps preventing anthrax disease. To better understand the interactions of the LF-PA
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The anthrax lethal toxin consists of protective antigen (PA) and lethal factor (LF). Understanding both the PA pore formation and LF translocation through the PA pore is crucial to mitigating and perhaps preventing anthrax disease. To better understand the interactions of the LF-PA engagement complex, the structure of the LFN-bound PA pore solubilized by a lipid nanodisc was examined using cryo-EM. CryoSPARC was used to rapidly sort particle populations of a heterogeneous sample preparation without imposing symmetry, resulting in a refined 17 Å PA pore structure with 3 LFN bound. At pH 7.5, the contributions from the three unstructured LFN lysine-rich tail regions do not occlude the Phe clamp opening. The open Phe clamp suggests that, in this translocation-compromised pH environment, the lysine-rich tails remain flexible and do not interact with the pore lumen region. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceArticle Cellular Entry of the Diphtheria Toxin Does Not Require the Formation of the Open-Channel State by Its Translocation Domain
Toxins 2017, 9(10), 299; doi:10.3390/toxins9100299
Received: 31 August 2017 / Revised: 20 September 2017 / Accepted: 20 September 2017 / Published: 22 September 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1586 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Cellular entry of diphtheria toxin is a multistage process involving receptor targeting, endocytosis, and translocation of the catalytic domain across the endosomal membrane into the cytosol. The latter is ensured by the translocation (T) domain of the toxin, capable of undergoing conformational refolding
[...] Read more.
Cellular entry of diphtheria toxin is a multistage process involving receptor targeting, endocytosis, and translocation of the catalytic domain across the endosomal membrane into the cytosol. The latter is ensured by the translocation (T) domain of the toxin, capable of undergoing conformational refolding and membrane insertion in response to the acidification of the endosomal environment. While numerous now classical studies have demonstrated the formation of an ion-conducting conformation—the Open-Channel State (OCS)—as the final step of the refolding pathway, it remains unclear whether this channel constitutes an in vivo translocation pathway or is a byproduct of the translocation. To address this question, we measure functional activity of known OCS-blocking mutants with H-to-Q replacements of C-terminal histidines of the T-domain. We also test the ability of these mutants to translocate their own N-terminus across lipid bilayers of model vesicles. The results of both experiments indicate that translocation activity does not correlate with previously published OCS activity. Finally, we determined the topology of TH5 helix in membrane-inserted T-domain using W281 fluorescence and its depth-dependent quenching by brominated lipids. Our results indicate that while TH5 becomes a transbilayer helix in a wild-type protein, it fails to insert in the case of the OCS-blocking mutant H322Q. We conclude that the formation of the OCS is not necessary for the functional translocation by the T-domain, at least in the histidine-replacement mutants, suggesting that the OCS is unlikely to constitute a translocation pathway for the cellular entry of diphtheria toxin in vivo. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Characterization of Post-Translational Modifications and Cytotoxic Properties of the Adenylate-Cyclase Hemolysin Produced by Various Bordetella pertussis and Bordetella parapertussis Isolates
Toxins 2017, 9(10), 304; doi:10.3390/toxins9100304
Received: 29 August 2017 / Revised: 19 September 2017 / Accepted: 20 September 2017 / Published: 26 September 2017
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Abstract
Bordetella pertussis and Bordetella parapertussis are the causal agents of whooping cough in humans. They produce diverse virulence factors, including adenylate cyclase-hemolysin (AC-Hly), a secreted toxin of the repeat in toxins (RTX) family with cyclase, pore-forming, and hemolytic activities. Post-translational modifications (PTMs) are
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Bordetella pertussis and Bordetella parapertussis are the causal agents of whooping cough in humans. They produce diverse virulence factors, including adenylate cyclase-hemolysin (AC-Hly), a secreted toxin of the repeat in toxins (RTX) family with cyclase, pore-forming, and hemolytic activities. Post-translational modifications (PTMs) are essential for the biological activities of the toxin produced by B. pertussis. In this study, we compared AC-Hly toxins from various clinical isolates of B. pertussis and B. parapertussis, focusing on (i) the genomic sequences of cyaA genes, (ii) the PTMs of partially purified AC-Hly, and (iii) the cytotoxic activity of the various AC-Hly toxins. The genes encoding the AC-Hly toxins of B. pertussis and B. parapertussis displayed very limited polymorphism in each species. Most of the sequence differences between the two species were found in the C-terminal part of the protein. Both toxins harbored PTMs, mostly corresponding to palmitoylations of the lysine 860 residue and palmoylations and myristoylations of lysine 983 for B. pertussis and AC-Hly and palmitoylations of lysine 894 and myristoylations of lysine 1017 for B. parapertussis AC-Hly. Purified AC-Hly from B. pertussis was cytotoxic to macrophages, whereas that from B. parapertussis was not. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Adenylate Cyclase (CyaA) Toxin)
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceArticle Determination of Ochratoxin A in Rye and Rye-Based Products by Fluorescence Polarization Immunoassay
Toxins 2017, 9(10), 305; doi:10.3390/toxins9100305
Received: 14 September 2017 / Revised: 21 September 2017 / Accepted: 22 September 2017 / Published: 26 September 2017
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Abstract
A rapid fluorescence polarization immunoassay (FPIA) was optimized and validated for the determination of ochratoxin A (OTA) in rye and rye crispbread. Samples were extracted with a mixture of acetonitrile/water (60:40, v/v) and purified by SPE-aminopropyl column clean-up before performing
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A rapid fluorescence polarization immunoassay (FPIA) was optimized and validated for the determination of ochratoxin A (OTA) in rye and rye crispbread. Samples were extracted with a mixture of acetonitrile/water (60:40, v/v) and purified by SPE-aminopropyl column clean-up before performing the FPIA. Overall mean recoveries were 86 and 95% for spiked rye and rye crispbread with relative standard deviations lower than 6%. Limits of detection (LOD) of the optimized FPIA was 0.6 μg/kg for rye and rye crispbread, respectively. Good correlations (r > 0.977) were observed between OTA contents in contaminated samples obtained by FPIA and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) with immunoaffinity cleanup used as reference method. Furthermore, single laboratory validation and small-scale collaborative trials were carried out for the determination of OTA in rye according to Regulation 519/2014/EU laying down procedures for the validation of screening methods. The precision profile of the method, cut-off level and rate of false suspect results confirm the satisfactory analytical performances of assay as a screening method. These findings show that the optimized FPIA is suitable for high-throughput screening, and permits reliable quantitative determination of OTA in rye and rye crispbread at levels that fall below the EU regulatory limits. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Biorecognition Assays for Mycotoxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Profiling of Extracellular Toxins Associated with Diarrhetic Shellfish Poison in Prorocentrum lima Culture Medium by High-Performance Liquid Chromatography Coupled with Mass Spectrometry
Toxins 2017, 9(10), 308; doi:10.3390/toxins9100308
Received: 1 September 2017 / Revised: 22 September 2017 / Accepted: 26 September 2017 / Published: 30 September 2017
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Abstract
Extracellular toxins released by marine toxigenic algae into the marine environment have attracted increasing attention in recent years. In this study, profiling, characterization and quantification of extracellular toxin compounds associated with diarrhetic shellfish poison (DSP) in the culture medium of toxin-producing dinoflagellates were
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Extracellular toxins released by marine toxigenic algae into the marine environment have attracted increasing attention in recent years. In this study, profiling, characterization and quantification of extracellular toxin compounds associated with diarrhetic shellfish poison (DSP) in the culture medium of toxin-producing dinoflagellates were performed using high-performance liquid chromatography–high-resolution mass spectrometry/tandem mass spectrometry for the first time. Results showed that solid-phase extraction can effectively enrich and clean the DSP compounds in the culture medium of Prorocentrum lima (P. lima), and the proposed method achieved satisfactory recoveries (94.80%–100.58%) and repeatability (relative standard deviation ≤9.27%). Commercial software associated with the accurate mass information of known DSP toxins and their derivatives was used to screen and identify DSP compounds. Nine extracellular DSP compounds were identified, of which seven toxins (including OA-D7b, OA-D9b, OA-D10a/b, and so on) were found in the culture medium of P. lima for the first time. The results of quantitative analysis showed that the contents of extracellular DSP compounds in P. lima culture medium were relatively high, and the types and contents of intracellular and extracellular toxins apparently varied in the different growth stages of P. lima. The concentrations of extracellular okadaic acid and dinophysistoxin-1 were within 19.9–34.0 and 15.2–27.9 μg/L, respectively. The total concentration of the DSP compounds was within the range of 57.70–79.63 μg/L. The results showed that the proposed method is an effective tool for profiling the extracellular DSP compounds in the culture medium of marine toxigenic algae. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Marine and Freshwater Toxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Target-Specificity in Scorpions; Comparing Lethality of Scorpion Venoms across Arthropods and Vertebrates
Toxins 2017, 9(10), 312; doi:10.3390/toxins9100312
Received: 6 September 2017 / Revised: 22 September 2017 / Accepted: 27 September 2017 / Published: 4 October 2017
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Abstract
Scorpions use their venom in defensive situations as well as for subduing prey. Since some species of scorpion use their venom more in defensive situations than others, this may have led to selection for differences in effectiveness in defensive situations. Here, we compared
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Scorpions use their venom in defensive situations as well as for subduing prey. Since some species of scorpion use their venom more in defensive situations than others, this may have led to selection for differences in effectiveness in defensive situations. Here, we compared the LD50 of the venom of 10 species of scorpions on five different species of target organisms; two insects and three vertebrates. We found little correlation between the target species in the efficacy of the different scorpion venoms. Only the two insects showed a positive correlation, indicating that they responded similarly to the panel of scorpion venoms. We discuss the lack of positive correlation between the vertebrate target species in the light of their evolution and development. When comparing the responses of the target systems to individual scorpion venoms pairwise, we found that closely related scorpion species tend to elicit a similar response pattern across the target species. This was further reflected in a significant phylogenetic signal across the scorpion phylogeny for the LD50 in mice and in zebrafish. We also provide the first mouse LD50 value for Grosphus grandidieri. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Scorpion Toxins)
Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceArticle The Aspergillus flavus Homeobox Gene, hbx1, Is Required for Development and Aflatoxin Production
Toxins 2017, 9(10), 315; doi:10.3390/toxins9100315
Received: 20 September 2017 / Revised: 6 October 2017 / Accepted: 9 October 2017 / Published: 12 October 2017
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Abstract
Homeobox proteins, a class of well conserved transcription factors, regulate the expression of targeted genes, especially those involved in development. In filamentous fungi, homeobox genes are required for normal conidiogenesis and fruiting body formation. In the present study, we identified eight homeobox (
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Homeobox proteins, a class of well conserved transcription factors, regulate the expression of targeted genes, especially those involved in development. In filamentous fungi, homeobox genes are required for normal conidiogenesis and fruiting body formation. In the present study, we identified eight homeobox (hbx) genes in the aflatoxin-producing ascomycete, Aspergillus flavus, and determined their respective role in growth, conidiation and sclerotial production. Disruption of seven of the eight genes had little to no effect on fungal growth and development. However, disruption of the homeobox gene AFLA_069100, designated as hbx1, in two morphologically different A. flavus strains, CA14 and AF70, resulted in complete loss of production of conidia and sclerotia as well as aflatoxins B1 and B2, cyclopiazonic acid and aflatrem. Microscopic examination showed that the Δhbx1 mutants did not produce conidiophores. The inability of Δhbx1 mutants to produce conidia was related to downregulation of brlA (bristle) and abaA (abacus), regulatory genes for conidiophore development. These mutants also had significant downregulation of the aflatoxin pathway biosynthetic genes aflC, aflD, aflM and the cluster-specific regulatory gene, aflR. Our results demonstrate that hbx1 not only plays a significant role in controlling A. flavus development but is also critical for the production of secondary metabolites, such as aflatoxins. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Palladium Nanoparticles-Based Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer Aptasensor for Highly Sensitive Detection of Aflatoxin M1 in Milk
Toxins 2017, 9(10), 318; doi:10.3390/toxins9100318
Received: 12 September 2017 / Revised: 5 October 2017 / Accepted: 6 October 2017 / Published: 13 October 2017
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Abstract
A highly sensitive aptasensor for aflatoxin M1 (AFM1) detection was constructed based on fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between 5-carboxyfluorescein (FAM) and palladium nanoparticles (PdNPs). PdNPs (33 nm) were synthesized through a seed-mediated growth method and exhibited broad and strong
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A highly sensitive aptasensor for aflatoxin M1 (AFM1) detection was constructed based on fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between 5-carboxyfluorescein (FAM) and palladium nanoparticles (PdNPs). PdNPs (33 nm) were synthesized through a seed-mediated growth method and exhibited broad and strong absorption in the whole ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis) range. The strong coordination interaction between nitrogen functional groups of the AFM1 aptamer and PdNPs brought FAM and PdNPs in close proximity, which resulted in the fluorescence quenching of FAM to a maximum extent of 95%. The non-specific fluorescence quenching caused by PdNPs towards fluorescein was negligible. After the introduction of AFM1 into the FAM-AFM1 aptamer-PdNPs FRET system, the AFM1 aptamer preferentially combined with AFM1 accompanied by conformational change, which greatly weakened the coordination interaction between the AFM1 aptamer and PdNPs. Thus, fluorescence recovery of FAM was observed and a linear relationship between the fluorescence recovery and the concentration of AFM1 was obtained in the range of 5–150 pg/mL in aqueous buffer with the detection limit of 1.5 pg/mL. AFM1 detection was also realized in milk samples with a linear detection range from 6 pg/mL to 150 pg/mL. The highly sensitive FRET aptasensor with simple configuration shows promising prospect in detecting a variety of food contaminants. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Aflatoxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Combined Venom Gland Transcriptomic and Venom Peptidomic Analysis of the Predatory Ant Odontomachus monticola
Toxins 2017, 9(10), 323; doi:10.3390/toxins9100323
Received: 18 September 2017 / Revised: 10 October 2017 / Accepted: 11 October 2017 / Published: 13 October 2017
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Abstract
Ants (hymenoptera: Formicidae) have adapted to many different environments and have become some of the most prolific and successful insects. To date, 13,258 ant species have been reported. They have been classified into 333 genera and 17 subfamilies. Except for a few Formicinae,
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Ants (hymenoptera: Formicidae) have adapted to many different environments and have become some of the most prolific and successful insects. To date, 13,258 ant species have been reported. They have been classified into 333 genera and 17 subfamilies. Except for a few Formicinae, Dolichoderinae, and members of other subfamilies, most ant species have a sting with venom. The venoms are composed of formic acid, alkaloids, hydrocarbons, amines, peptides, and proteins. Unlike the venoms of other animals such as snakes and spiders, ant venoms have seldom been analyzed comprehensively, and their compositions are not yet completely known. In this study, we used both transcriptomic and peptidomic analyses to study the composition of the venom produced by the predatory ant species Odontomachus monticola. The transcriptome analysis yielded 49,639 contigs, of which 92 encoded toxin-like peptides and proteins with 18,106,338 mapped reads. We identified six pilosulin-like peptides by transcriptomic analysis in the venom gland. Further, we found intact pilosulin-like peptide 1 and truncated pilosulin-like peptides 2 and 3 by peptidomic analysis in the venom. Our findings related to ant venom peptides and proteins may lead the way towards development and application of novel pharmaceutical and biopesticidal resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Mycotoxin Analysis of Human Urine by LC-MS/MS: A Comparative Extraction Study
Toxins 2017, 9(10), 330; doi:10.3390/toxins9100330
Received: 29 September 2017 / Revised: 13 October 2017 / Accepted: 15 October 2017 / Published: 19 October 2017
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Abstract
The lower mycotoxin levels detected in urine make the development of sensitive and accurate analytical methods essential. Three extraction methods, namely salting-out liquid–liquid extraction (SALLE), miniQuEChERS (quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, and safe), and dispersive liquid–liquid microextraction (DLLME), were evaluated and compared based
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The lower mycotoxin levels detected in urine make the development of sensitive and accurate analytical methods essential. Three extraction methods, namely salting-out liquid–liquid extraction (SALLE), miniQuEChERS (quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, and safe), and dispersive liquid–liquid microextraction (DLLME), were evaluated and compared based on analytical parameters for the quantitative LC-MS/MS measurement of 11 mycotoxins (AFB1, AFB2, AFG1, AFG2, OTA, ZEA, BEA, EN A, EN B, EN A1 and EN B1) in human urine. DLLME was selected as the most appropriate methodology, as it produced better validation results for recovery (79–113%), reproducibility (RSDs < 12%), and repeatability (RSDs < 15%) than miniQuEChERS (71–109%, RSDs <14% and <24%, respectively) and SALLE (70–108%, RSDs < 14% and < 24%, respectively). Moreover, the lowest detection (LODS) and quantitation limits (LOQS) were achieved with DLLME (LODs: 0.005–2 μg L−1, LOQs: 0.1–4 μg L−1). DLLME methodology was used for the analysis of 10 real urine samples from healthy volunteers showing the presence of ENs B, B1 and A1 at low concentrations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Mycotoxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Effect of Clostridium perfringens β-Toxin on Platelets
Toxins 2017, 9(10), 336; doi:10.3390/toxins9100336
Received: 2 October 2017 / Revised: 19 October 2017 / Accepted: 20 October 2017 / Published: 24 October 2017
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Abstract
Clostridium perfringens β-toxin (CPB) is the major virulence factor of C. perfringens type C causing a hemorrhagic enteritis in animals and humans. In experimentally infected pigs, endothelial binding of CPB was shown to be associated with early vascular lesions and hemorrhage but
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Clostridium perfringens β-toxin (CPB) is the major virulence factor of C. perfringens type C causing a hemorrhagic enteritis in animals and humans. In experimentally infected pigs, endothelial binding of CPB was shown to be associated with early vascular lesions and hemorrhage but without obvious thrombosis of affected vessels, suggesting altered hemostasis in the early phase of the disease. The objective of the present study was to investigate the effect of CPB on platelets, with respect to primary hemostasis. Our results demonstrate that CPB binds to porcine and human platelets and forms oligomers resulting in a time- and dose-dependent cell death. Platelets showed rapid ultrastructural changes, significantly decreased aggregation and could no longer be activated by thrombin. This indicates that CPB affects the physiological function of platelets and counteracts primary hemostasis. Our results add platelets to the list of target cells of CPB and extend the current hypothesis of its role in the pathogenesis of C. perfringens type C enteritis. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Shiga Toxin Glycosphingolipid Receptors in Human Caco-2 and HCT-8 Colon Epithelial Cell Lines
Toxins 2017, 9(11), 338; doi:10.3390/toxins9110338
Received: 26 September 2017 / Revised: 11 October 2017 / Accepted: 19 October 2017 / Published: 25 October 2017
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Abstract
Shiga toxins (Stxs) released by enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) into the human colon are the causative agents for fatal outcome of EHEC infections. Colon epithelial Caco-2 and HCT-8 cells are widely used for investigating Stx-mediated intestinal cytotoxicity. Only limited data are available regarding
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Shiga toxins (Stxs) released by enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) into the human colon are the causative agents for fatal outcome of EHEC infections. Colon epithelial Caco-2 and HCT-8 cells are widely used for investigating Stx-mediated intestinal cytotoxicity. Only limited data are available regarding precise structures of their Stx receptor glycosphingolipids (GSLs) globotriaosylceramide (Gb3Cer) and globotetraosylceramide (Gb4Cer), and lipid raft association. In this study we identified Gb3Cer and Gb4Cer lipoforms of serum-free cultivated Caco-2 and HCT-8 cells, chiefly harboring ceramide moieties composed of sphingosine (d18:1) and C16:0, C22:0 or C24:0/C24:1 fatty acid. The most significant difference between the two cell lines was the prevalence of Gb3Cer with C16 fatty acid in HCT-8 and Gb4Cer with C22–C24 fatty acids in Caco-2 cells. Lipid compositional analysis of detergent-resistant membranes (DRMs), which were used as lipid raft-equivalents, indicated slightly higher relative content of Stx receptor Gb3Cer in DRMs of HCT-8 cells when compared to Caco-2 cells. Cytotoxicity assays revealed substantial sensitivity towards Stx2a for both cell lines, evidencing little higher susceptibility of Caco-2 cells versus HCT-8 cells. Collectively, Caco-2 and HCT-8 cells express a plethora of different receptor lipoforms and are susceptible towards Stx2a exhibiting somewhat lower sensitivity when compared to Vero cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Shiga Toxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Investigation of Non-Covalent Interactions of Aflatoxins (B1, B2, G1, G2, and M1) with Serum Albumin
Toxins 2017, 9(11), 339; doi:10.3390/toxins9110339
Received: 27 September 2017 / Revised: 15 October 2017 / Accepted: 20 October 2017 / Published: 25 October 2017
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Abstract
Aflatoxins are widely spread mycotoxins produced mainly by Aspergillus species. Consumption of aflatoxin-contaminated foods and drinks causes serious health risks for people worldwide. It is well-known that the reactive epoxide metabolite of aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) forms covalent adducts with serum albumin. However, non-covalent
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Aflatoxins are widely spread mycotoxins produced mainly by Aspergillus species. Consumption of aflatoxin-contaminated foods and drinks causes serious health risks for people worldwide. It is well-known that the reactive epoxide metabolite of aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) forms covalent adducts with serum albumin. However, non-covalent interactions of aflatoxins with human serum albumin (HSA) are poorly characterized. Thus, in this study the complex formation of aflatoxins was examined with HSA applying spectroscopic and molecular modelling studies. Our results demonstrate that aflatoxins form stable complexes with HSA as reflected by binding constants between 2.1 × 104 and 4.5 × 104 dm3/mol. A binding free energy value of −26.90 kJ mol−1 suggests a spontaneous binding process between AFB1 and HSA at room-temperature, while the positive entropy change of 55.1 JK−1 mol−1 indicates a partial decomposition of the solvation shells of the interacting molecules. Modeling studies and investigations with site markers suggest that Sudlow’s Site I of subdomain IIA is the high affinity binding site of aflatoxins on HSA. Interaction of AFB1 with bovine, porcine, and rat serum albumins was also investigated. Similar stabilities of the examined AFB1-albumin complexes were observed suggesting the low species differences of the albumin-binding of aflatoxins. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Mycotoxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle The Aromatic Head Group of Spider Toxin Polyamines Influences Toxicity to Cancer Cells
Toxins 2017, 9(11), 346; doi:10.3390/toxins9110346
Received: 5 September 2017 / Revised: 22 October 2017 / Accepted: 23 October 2017 / Published: 27 October 2017
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Abstract
Spider venoms constitute incredibly diverse libraries of compounds, many of which are involved in prey capture and defence. Polyamines are often prevalent in the venom and target ionotropic glutamate receptors. Here we show that a novel spider polyamine, PA366, containing a
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Spider venoms constitute incredibly diverse libraries of compounds, many of which are involved in prey capture and defence. Polyamines are often prevalent in the venom and target ionotropic glutamate receptors. Here we show that a novel spider polyamine, PA366, containing a hydroxyphenyl-based structure is present in the venom of several species of tarantula, and has selective toxicity against MCF-7 breast cancer cells. By contrast, a polyamine from an Australian funnel-web spider venom, which contains an identical polyamine tail to PA366 but an indole-based head-group, is only cytotoxic at high concentrations. Our results suggest that the ring structure plays a role in the cytotoxicity and that modification to the polyamine head group might lead to more potent and selective compounds with potential as novel cancer treatments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Aspergillus korhogoensis, a Novel Aflatoxin Producing Species from the Côte d’Ivoire
Toxins 2017, 9(11), 353; doi:10.3390/toxins9110353
Received: 26 September 2017 / Revised: 13 October 2017 / Accepted: 26 October 2017 / Published: 31 October 2017
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Abstract
Several strains of a new aflatoxigenic species of Aspergillus, A. korhogoensis, were isolated in the course of a screening study involving species from section Flavi found contaminating peanuts (Arachis hypogaea) and peanut paste in the Côte d’Ivoire. Based on
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Several strains of a new aflatoxigenic species of Aspergillus, A. korhogoensis, were isolated in the course of a screening study involving species from section Flavi found contaminating peanuts (Arachis hypogaea) and peanut paste in the Côte d’Ivoire. Based on examination of four isolates, this new species is described using a polyphasic approach. A concatenated alignment comprised of nine genes (ITS, benA, cmdA, mcm7, amdS, rpb1, preB, ppgA, and preA) was subjected to phylogenetic analysis, and resulted in all four strains being inferred as a distinct clade. Characterization of mating type for each strain revealed A. korhogoensis as a heterothallic species, since three isolates exhibited a singular MAT1-1 locus and one isolate exhibited a singular MAT1-2 locus. Morphological and physiological characterizations were also performed based on their growth on various types of media. Their respective extrolite profiles were characterized using LC/HRMS, and showed that this new species is capable of producing B- and G-aflatoxins, aspergillic acid, cyclopiazonic acid, aflavarins, and asparasones, as well as other metabolites. Altogether, our results confirm the monophyly of A. korhogoensis, and strengthen its position in the A. flavus clade, as the sister taxon of A. parvisclerotigenus. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Aflatoxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Efficacy of Bee Venom Acupuncture for Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Sham-Controlled Trial
Toxins 2017, 9(11), 361; doi:10.3390/toxins9110361
Received: 14 October 2017 / Revised: 27 October 2017 / Accepted: 3 November 2017 / Published: 7 November 2017
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Abstract
Bee venom acupuncture (BVA) is an effective treatment for chronic low back pain (CLBP) through the pharmacological effects of bee venom and the simultaneous stimulation of acupoints. However, evidence of its efficacy and safety in humans remains unclear. Using a double-blind, randomized study,
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Bee venom acupuncture (BVA) is an effective treatment for chronic low back pain (CLBP) through the pharmacological effects of bee venom and the simultaneous stimulation of acupoints. However, evidence of its efficacy and safety in humans remains unclear. Using a double-blind, randomized study, 54 patients with non-specific CLBP were assigned to the BVA and sham groups. All participants underwent six sessions of real or sham BVA for 3 weeks, in addition to administration of 180 mg of loxonin per day. The primary outcome, that is, “bothersomeness” derived from back pain, was assessed using the visual analog scale. Secondary outcomes included pain intensity, dysfunction related to back pain (Oswestry Disability Index), quality of life (EuroQol 5-Dimension), and depressive mood (Beck’s depression inventory). Outcomes were evaluated every week during the treatment period and followed up at weeks 4, 8, and 12. After 3 weeks of the treatment, significant improvements were observed in the bothersomeness, pain intensity, and functional status in the BVA group compared with the sham group. Although minimal adverse events were observed in both groups, subsequent recovery was achieved without treatment. Consequently, our results suggest that it can be used along with conventional pharmacological therapies for the treatment of CLBP. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Venoms and Pain)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Awareness and Prevalence of Mycotoxin Contamination in Selected Nigerian Fermented Foods
Toxins 2017, 9(11), 363; doi:10.3390/toxins9110363
Received: 20 October 2017 / Revised: 3 November 2017 / Accepted: 4 November 2017 / Published: 8 November 2017
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Abstract
Fermented food samples (n = 191) including maize gruel (ogi), sorghum gruel (ogi-baba), melon seed (ogiri), locust bean (iru) and African oil bean seed (ugba) from Southwest Nigeria were quantified for 23
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Fermented food samples (n = 191) including maize gruel (ogi), sorghum gruel (ogi-baba), melon seed (ogiri), locust bean (iru) and African oil bean seed (ugba) from Southwest Nigeria were quantified for 23 mycotoxins, including aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), fumonisin B1 (FB1), and sterigmatocystin (STE) using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. The practices, perceived understanding and health risks related to fungal and mycotoxin contamination amongst fermented food sellers was also established. Data obtained revealed that 82% of the samples had mycotoxins occurring singly or in combination. FB1 was present in 83% of ogi-baba samples, whereas 20% of ugba samples contained AFB1 (range: 3 to 36 µg/kg) and STE was present in 29% of the ogi samples. In terms of multi-mycotoxin contamination, FB1 + FB2 + FB3 + STE + AFB1 + alternariol + HT-2 co-occurred within one sample. The awareness study revealed that 98% of respondents were unaware of mycotoxin contamination, and their education level slightly correlated with their level of awareness (p < 0.01, r = 0.308). The extent to which the analyzed mycotoxins contaminated these food commodities, coupled with the poor perception of the population under study on fungi and mycotoxins, justifies the need to enact fungal and mycotoxin mitigation strategies along the food chain. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Differential Gene Expression Analysis of Bovine Macrophages after Exposure to the Penicillium Mycotoxins Citrinin and/or Ochratoxin A
Toxins 2017, 9(11), 366; doi:10.3390/toxins9110366
Received: 2 October 2017 / Revised: 8 November 2017 / Accepted: 9 November 2017 / Published: 13 November 2017
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Abstract
Mycotoxins produced by fungal species commonly contaminate livestock feedstuffs, jeopardizing their health and diminishing production. Citrinin (CIT) and ochratoxin A (OTA) are mycotoxins produced by Penicillium spp. and commonly co-occur. Both CIT and OTA can modulate immune response by inhibiting cell proliferation and
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Mycotoxins produced by fungal species commonly contaminate livestock feedstuffs, jeopardizing their health and diminishing production. Citrinin (CIT) and ochratoxin A (OTA) are mycotoxins produced by Penicillium spp. and commonly co-occur. Both CIT and OTA can modulate immune response by inhibiting cell proliferation and differentiation, altering cell metabolism, and triggering programmed cell death. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of sublethal exposure (i.e., the concentration that inhibited cell proliferation by 25% (IC25)) to CIT, OTA or CIT + OTA on the bovine macrophage transcriptome. Gene expression was determined using the Affymetrix Bovine Genome Array. After 6 h of exposure to CIT, OTA or CIT + OTA, the number of differentially expressed genes (DEG), respectively, was as follows: 1471 genes (822 up-regulated, 649 down-regulated), 5094 genes (2611 up-regulated, 2483 down-regulated) and 7624 genes (3984 up-regulated, 3640 down-regulated). Of these, 179 genes (88 up-regulated, 91 down-regulated) were commonly expressed between treatments. After 24 h of exposure to CIT, OTA or CIT + OTA the number of DEG, respectively, was as follows: 3230 genes (1631 up-regulated, 1599 down-regulated), 8558 genes (4167 up-regulated, 4391 down-regulated), and 10,927 genes (6284 up-regulated, 4643 down-regulated). Of these, 770 genes (247 up-regulated, 523 down-regulated) were commonly expressed between treatments. The categorization of common biological functions and pathway analysis suggests that the IC25 of both CIT and OTA, or their combination, induces cellular oxidative stress, a slowing of cell cycle progression, and apoptosis. Collectively, these effects contribute to inhibiting bovine macrophage proliferation. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Ochratoxins-Collection)
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceArticle Membrane-Active Properties of an Amphitropic Peptide from the CyaA Toxin Translocation Region
Toxins 2017, 9(11), 369; doi:10.3390/toxins9110369
Received: 18 October 2017 / Revised: 9 November 2017 / Accepted: 10 November 2017 / Published: 14 November 2017
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Abstract
The adenylate cyclase toxin CyaA is involved in the early stages of infection by Bordetella pertussis, the causative agent of whooping cough. CyaA intoxicates target cells by a direct translocation of its catalytic domain (AC) across the plasma membrane and produces supraphysiological
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The adenylate cyclase toxin CyaA is involved in the early stages of infection by Bordetella pertussis, the causative agent of whooping cough. CyaA intoxicates target cells by a direct translocation of its catalytic domain (AC) across the plasma membrane and produces supraphysiological levels of cAMP, leading to cell death. The molecular process of AC translocation remains largely unknown, however. We have previously shown that deletion of residues 375–485 of CyaA selectively abrogates AC translocation into eukaryotic cells. We further identified within this “translocation region” (TR), P454 (residues 454–484), a peptide that exhibits membrane-active properties, i.e., is able to bind and permeabilize lipid vesicles. Here, we analyze various sequences from CyaA predicted to be amphipatic and show that although several of these peptides can bind membranes and adopt a helical conformation, only the P454 peptide is able to permeabilize membranes. We further characterize the contributions of the two arginine residues of P454 to membrane partitioning and permeabilization by analyzing the peptide variants in which these residues are substituted by different amino acids (e.g., A, K, Q, and E). Our data shows that both arginine residues significantly contribute, although diversely, to the membrane-active properties of P454, i.e., interactions with both neutral and anionic lipids, helix formation in membranes, and disruption of lipid bilayer integrity. These results are discussed in the context of the translocation process of the full-length CyaA toxin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Adenylate Cyclase (CyaA) Toxin)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Ameliorative Effects of Grape Seed Proanthocyanidin Extract on Growth Performance, Immune Function, Antioxidant Capacity, Biochemical Constituents, Liver Histopathology and Aflatoxin Residues in Broilers Exposed to Aflatoxin B1
Toxins 2017, 9(11), 371; doi:10.3390/toxins9110371
Received: 26 September 2017 / Revised: 3 November 2017 / Accepted: 14 November 2017 / Published: 15 November 2017
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Abstract
Aflatoxicosis is a grave threat to the poultry industry. Dietary supplementation with antioxidants showed a great potential in enhancing the immune system; hence, protecting animals against aflatoxin B1-induced toxicity. Grape seed proanthocyanidin extract (GSPE) one of the most well-known and powerful
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Aflatoxicosis is a grave threat to the poultry industry. Dietary supplementation with antioxidants showed a great potential in enhancing the immune system; hence, protecting animals against aflatoxin B1-induced toxicity. Grape seed proanthocyanidin extract (GSPE) one of the most well-known and powerful antioxidants. Therefore, the purpose of this research was to investigate the effectiveness of GSPE in the detoxification of AFB1 in broilers. A total of 300 one-day-old Cobb chicks were randomly allocated into five treatments of six replicates (10 birds per replicate), fed ad libitum for four weeks with the following dietary treatments: 1. Basal diet (control); 2. Basal diet + 1 mg/kg AFB1 contaminated corn (AFB1); 3. Basal diet + GSPE 250 mg/kg; (GSPE 250 mg/kg) 4. Basal diet + AFB1 (1 mg/kg) + GSPE 250 mg/kg; (AFB1 + GSPE 250 mg/kg) 5. Basal diet + AFB1 (1mg/kg) + GSPE 500 mg/kg, (AFB1 + GSPE 500 mg/kg). When compared with the control group, feeding broilers with AFB1 alone significantly reduced growth performance, serum immunoglobulin contents, negatively altered serum biochemical contents, and enzyme activities, and induced histopathological lesion in the liver. In addition, AFB1 significantly increased malondialdehyde content and decreased total superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxide, glutathione-S transferase, glutathione reductase activities, and glutathione concentration within the liver and serum. The supplementation of GSPE (250 and 500 mg/kg) to AFB1 contaminated diet reduced AFB1 residue in the liver and significantly mitigated AFB1 negative effects. From these results, it can be concluded that dietary supplementation of GSPE has protective effects against aflatoxicosis caused by AFB1 in broiler chickens. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Mycotoxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Ultrasonographic Evaluation of Botulinum Toxin Injection Site for the Medial Approach to Tibialis Posterior Muscle in Chronic Stroke Patients with Spastic Equinovarus Foot: An Observational Study
Toxins 2017, 9(11), 375; doi:10.3390/toxins9110375
Received: 18 October 2017 / Revised: 15 November 2017 / Accepted: 16 November 2017 / Published: 18 November 2017
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Abstract
The tibialis posterior muscle is a frequent target for injection of botulinum toxin during the management of spastic equinovarus foot in adults with post-stroke spasticity. Although it is deep-seated, the needle insertion into the tibialis posterior muscle is usually performed using anatomical landmarks
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The tibialis posterior muscle is a frequent target for injection of botulinum toxin during the management of spastic equinovarus foot in adults with post-stroke spasticity. Although it is deep-seated, the needle insertion into the tibialis posterior muscle is usually performed using anatomical landmarks and safety information obtained from healthy subjects and cadavers. Our aim was to evaluate the botulinum toxin injection site for the medial approach to the tibialis posterior muscle in chronic stroke patients with spastic equinovarus foot. Forty-six patients were evaluated at the affected middle lower leg medial surface with ultrasonography according to the following parameters: tibialis posterior muscle depth, thickness, and echo intensity. As to the spastic tibialis posterior, we found a mean muscle depth of 26.5 mm and a mean muscle thickness of 10.1 mm. Furthermore we observed a median tibialis posterior muscle echo intensity of 3.00 on the Heckmatt scale. The tibialis posterior muscle thickness was found to be inversely associated with its depth (p < 0.001) and echo intensity (p = 0.006). Furthermore, tibialis posterior muscle depth was found to be directly associated with its echo intensity (p = 0.004). Our findings may usefully inform manual needle placement into the tibialis posterior for the botulinum toxin treatment of spastic equinovarus foot in chronic stroke patients. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Muscle Selection for BoNT)
Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceArticle Interaction of Cholesterol with Perfringolysin O: What Have We Learned from Functional Analysis?
Toxins 2017, 9(12), 381; doi:10.3390/toxins9120381
Received: 31 October 2017 / Revised: 16 November 2017 / Accepted: 17 November 2017 / Published: 23 November 2017
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Abstract
Cholesterol-dependent cytolysins (CDCs) constitute a family of pore-forming toxins secreted by Gram-positive bacteria. These toxins form transmembrane pores by inserting a large β-barrel into cholesterol-containing membranes. Cholesterol is absolutely required for pore-formation. For most CDCs, binding to cholesterol triggers conformational changes that lead
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Cholesterol-dependent cytolysins (CDCs) constitute a family of pore-forming toxins secreted by Gram-positive bacteria. These toxins form transmembrane pores by inserting a large β-barrel into cholesterol-containing membranes. Cholesterol is absolutely required for pore-formation. For most CDCs, binding to cholesterol triggers conformational changes that lead to oligomerization and end in pore-formation. Perfringolysin O (PFO), secreted by Clostridium perfringens, is the prototype for the CDCs. The molecular mechanisms by which cholesterol regulates the cytolytic activity of the CDCs are not fully understood. In particular, the location of the binding site for cholesterol has remained elusive. We have summarized here the current body of knowledge on the CDCs-cholesterol interaction, with focus on PFO. We have employed sterols in aqueous solution to identify structural elements in the cholesterol molecule that are critical for its interaction with PFO. In the absence of high-resolution structural information, site-directed mutagenesis data combined with binding studies performed with different sterols, and molecular modeling are beginning to shed light on this interaction. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Multipurpose HTS Coagulation Analysis: Assay Development and Assessment of Coagulopathic Snake Venoms
Toxins 2017, 9(12), 382; doi:10.3390/toxins9120382
Received: 20 October 2017 / Revised: 16 November 2017 / Accepted: 21 November 2017 / Published: 25 November 2017
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Abstract
Coagulation assays currently employed are often low throughput, require specialized equipment and/or require large blood/plasma samples. This study describes the development, optimization and early application of a generic low-volume and high-throughput screening (HTS) assay for coagulation activity. The assay is a time-course spectrophotometric
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Coagulation assays currently employed are often low throughput, require specialized equipment and/or require large blood/plasma samples. This study describes the development, optimization and early application of a generic low-volume and high-throughput screening (HTS) assay for coagulation activity. The assay is a time-course spectrophotometric measurement which kinetically measures the clotting profile of bovine or human plasma incubated with Ca2+ and a test compound. The HTS assay can be a valuable new tool for coagulation diagnostics in hospitals, for research in coagulation disorders, for drug discovery and for venom research. A major effect following envenomation by many venomous snakes is perturbation of blood coagulation caused by haemotoxic compounds present in the venom. These compounds, such as anticoagulants, are potential leads in drug discovery for cardiovascular diseases. The assay was implemented in an integrated analytical approach consisting of reversed-phase liquid chromatography (LC) for separation of crude venom components in combination with parallel post-column coagulation screening and mass spectrometry (MS). The approach was applied for the rapid assessment and identification of profiles of haemotoxic compounds in snake venoms. Procoagulant and anticoagulant activities were correlated with accurate masses from the parallel MS measurements, facilitating the detection of peptides showing strong anticoagulant activity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Immunohistochemical Analysis of Rat Renal Tumours Caused by Ochratoxin A
Toxins 2017, 9(12), 384; doi:10.3390/toxins9120384
Received: 31 October 2017 / Revised: 21 November 2017 / Accepted: 24 November 2017 / Published: 28 November 2017
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Abstract
Experimental renal cancer caused by ochratoxin A (OTA) in rats was first defined in the US National Toxicology Program (1989) and raised questions about any aetiological role in human urinary tract tumours. A review of histopathology in several rat kidney tumours from dietary
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Experimental renal cancer caused by ochratoxin A (OTA) in rats was first defined in the US National Toxicology Program (1989) and raised questions about any aetiological role in human urinary tract tumours. A review of histopathology in several rat kidney tumours from dietary OTA in recently described London studies, augmented by clinical immunohistochemistry for the first time for this mycotoxin, establishes their renal tubular cell origin. It had been assumed that the toxin might cause the human urothelial tumours associated with Balkan endemic nephropathy, but the present study could not support this. Comparison with a similar review of a metastasising renal tumour from a female rat of the NTP study consistently shows the kidney as the primary carcinogenic site for OTA. Morphological heterogeneity of these kidney tumours as epithelioid and/or sarcomatoid is revealed. Leiomyosarcoma was also diagnosed, and rhabdomyosarcoma differentiation was observed in the exceptionally aggressive NTP female tumour. The present pilot study involving immunohistochemistry indicates need for wider review of archived tumours for experimental evidence before formulating any epidemiological basis from a rat model for OTA’s relevance to idiopathic human renal cell carcinoma. Although the NTP study concluded that females are less sensitive to OTA than males, some female tumours still had heterogeneous morphology. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Ochratoxins-Collection)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Detection of Abrin Holotoxin Using Novel Monoclonal Antibodies
Toxins 2017, 9(12), 386; doi:10.3390/toxins9120386
Received: 8 September 2017 / Revised: 9 November 2017 / Accepted: 23 November 2017 / Published: 28 November 2017
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Abstract
Abrin, a member of the ribosome-inactivating protein family, is produced by the Abrus precatorius plant. Having the potential to pose a severe threat to both human and animal health, abrin is classified as a Select Agent by the U.S. Department of Health and
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Abrin, a member of the ribosome-inactivating protein family, is produced by the Abrus precatorius plant. Having the potential to pose a severe threat to both human and animal health, abrin is classified as a Select Agent by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. However, an immunoassay that is specific for intact abrin holotoxin has not yet been reported. In this study, seven new monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), designated as Abrin-1 through Abrin-7 have been developed. Isotyping analyses indicate these mAbs have IgG1, IgG2a, or IgG2b heavy-chains and kappa light-chains. Western blot analyses identified two abrin A-chain specific mAbs, Abrin-1 and Abrin-2, and four B-chain specific mAbs (Abrin-3, -5, -6, and -7). A sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), capable of detecting a mixture of abrin isoforms and agglutinins was developed using B-chain specific Abrin-3 for capture and A-chain specific Abrin-2 as detector. The ELISA is highly sensitive and detects 1 ng/mL of the abrin holotoxin in phosphate-buffered saline, nonfat milk, and whole milk, significantly below concentrations that would pose a health concern for consumers. This ELISA also detects native abrin in plant extracts with a very low background signal. The new abrin mAbs and ELISA should be useful for detecting this potent toxin in the milk supply chain and other complex matrices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Plant Toxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle T-2 Toxin/HT-2 Toxin and Ochratoxin A ELISAs Development and In-House Validation in Food in Accordance with Commission Regulation (EU) No 519/2014
Toxins 2017, 9(12), 388; doi:10.3390/toxins9120388
Received: 15 November 2017 / Revised: 25 November 2017 / Accepted: 29 November 2017 / Published: 30 November 2017
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Abstract
T-2 toxin/HT-2 toxin (T-2/HT-2) and ochratoxin A (OTA) are mycotoxins that can contaminate a variety of agricultural commodities. To protect consumers’ health, indicative limits for T-2/HT-2 and maximum limits for OTA have been set by the European Commission, requiring food business operators and
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T-2 toxin/HT-2 toxin (T-2/HT-2) and ochratoxin A (OTA) are mycotoxins that can contaminate a variety of agricultural commodities. To protect consumers’ health, indicative limits for T-2/HT-2 and maximum limits for OTA have been set by the European Commission, requiring food business operators and controlling agencies to conduct routine checks for the presence of these harmful contaminants. Screening methods are increasingly used for monitoring purposes. Due to the demand for new and improved screening tools, two individual detection methods, T-2/HT-2 and OTA enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs), were developed in this study. The T-2/HT-2 ELISA was based on a T-2 monoclonal antibody with an IC50 (50% inhibitory concentration) of 0.28 ng/mL and 125% cross-reactivity with HT-2. As regards the OTA ELISA, a new sensitive monoclonal antibody specific to OTA with an IC50 of 0.13 ng/mL was produced. Both developed ELISA tests were then validated in agricultural commodities in accordance with the new performance criteria guidelines for the validation of screening methods for mycotoxins included in Commission Regulation (EU) No 519/2014. The T-2/HT-2 ELISA was demonstrated to be suitable for the detection of T-2/HT-2 in cereals and baby food at and above the screening target concentration (STC) of 12.5 μg/kg and 7.5 μg/kg, respectively. The OTA ELISA was shown to be applicable for the detection of OTA in cereals, coffee, cocoa and wine at and above the STC of 2 μg/kg, 2.5 μg/kg, 2.5 μg/kg and 0.4 ng/mL, respectively. The accuracy of both ELISAs was further confirmed by analysing proficiency test and reference samples. The developed methods can be used for sensitive and high-throughput screening for the presence of T-2/HT-2 and OTA in agricultural commodities. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Biorecognition Assays for Mycotoxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceCommunication High Conservation of Tetanus and Botulinum Neurotoxins Cleavage Sites on Human SNARE Proteins Suggests That These Pathogens Exerted Little or No Evolutionary Pressure on Humans
Toxins 2017, 9(12), 404; doi:10.3390/toxins9120404
Received: 7 November 2017 / Revised: 14 December 2017 / Accepted: 15 December 2017 / Published: 19 December 2017
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Abstract
The Genome Aggregation Database presently contains >120,000 human genomes. We searched in this database for the presence of mutations at the sites of tetanus (TeNT) and botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) cleavages of the three SNARE proteins: VAMP, SNAP-25 and Syntaxin. These mutations could account
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The Genome Aggregation Database presently contains >120,000 human genomes. We searched in this database for the presence of mutations at the sites of tetanus (TeNT) and botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) cleavages of the three SNARE proteins: VAMP, SNAP-25 and Syntaxin. These mutations could account for some of the BoNT/A resistant patients. At the same time, this approach was aimed at testing the possibility that TeNT and BoNT may have acted as selective agents in the development of resistance to tetanus or botulism. We found that mutations of the SNARE proteins are very rare and concentrated outside the SNARE motif required for the formation of the SNARE complex involved in neuroexocytosis. No changes were found at the BoNT cleavage sites of VAMP and syntaxins and only one very rare mutation was found in the essential C-terminus region of SNAP-25, where Arg198 was replaced with a Cys residue. This is the P1’ cleavage site for BoNT/A and the P1 cleavage site for BoNT/C. We found that the Arg198Cys mutation renders SNAP-25 resistant to BoNT/A. Nonetheless, its low frequency (1.8 × 10−5) indicates that mutations of SNAP-25 at the BoNT/A cleavage site are unlikely to account for the existence of BoNT/A resistant patients. More in general, the present findings indicate that tetanus and botulinum neurotoxins have not acted as selective agents during human evolution as it appears to have been the case for tetanus in rats and chicken. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Bacterial Toxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle High Incidence and Levels of Ochratoxin A in Wines Sourced from the United States
Toxins 2018, 10(1), 1; doi:10.3390/toxins10010001
Received: 28 November 2017 / Revised: 12 December 2017 / Accepted: 15 December 2017 / Published: 21 December 2017
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Abstract
Ochratoxin A (OTA) is one of the most prevalent mycotoxin contaminants of food crops. Among the agricultural products consequently contaminated by OTA is wine. In the present study, a sample of wines sourced from the United States was assessed for OTA. Wines were
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Ochratoxin A (OTA) is one of the most prevalent mycotoxin contaminants of food crops. Among the agricultural products consequently contaminated by OTA is wine. In the present study, a sample of wines sourced from the United States was assessed for OTA. Wines were primarily analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection (HPLC-FD) coupled to a liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) technique which was developed and validated as a simplified sample preparation approach. More than 85% of the wines evaluated were found to contain OTA, at levels above the limit-of-detection (LOD = 0.1 µg L−1), and 76% were above the limit-of-quantitation (LOQ = 0.3 µg L−1) for the LLE/HPLC-FD method. More than two-thirds of the wines above the LOQ were found to exceed 1 µg L−1. Complementary analysis by HPLC coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS) confirmed OTA in 74% of the OTA-positive wines (i.e., >LOQ by HPLC-FD). Overall, both the occurrence and measured levels of OTA were generally high, specifically relative to previous assessments of OTA in wine, and two of the wines were above the only current (European Union) regulatory limit of two parts-per-billion (ppb, ~2 µg L−1). Possible trends with respect to geographical region and/or growing climate are noted. As the first assessment of U.S. wines in more than a decade, the overall high occurrence and levels of OTA in wine, and possible geographic and climatic trends, point to a need for regular surveillance of wines, as well as investigation of the relevant contributors to OTA occurrence toward mitigating contamination and exposure risks. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Ochratoxins-Collection)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Tectus niloticus (Tegulidae, Gastropod) as a Novel Vector of Ciguatera Poisoning: Detection of Pacific Ciguatoxins in Toxic Samples from Nuku Hiva Island (French Polynesia)
Toxins 2018, 10(1), 2; doi:10.3390/toxins10010002
Received: 25 November 2017 / Revised: 15 December 2017 / Accepted: 18 December 2017 / Published: 21 December 2017
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Abstract
Ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP) is a foodborne disease caused by the consumption of seafood (fish and marine invertebrates) contaminated with ciguatoxins (CTXs) produced by dinoflagellates in the genus Gambierdiscus. The report of a CFP-like mass-poisoning outbreak following the consumption of Tectus niloticus
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Ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP) is a foodborne disease caused by the consumption of seafood (fish and marine invertebrates) contaminated with ciguatoxins (CTXs) produced by dinoflagellates in the genus Gambierdiscus. The report of a CFP-like mass-poisoning outbreak following the consumption of Tectus niloticus (Tegulidae, Gastropod) from Anaho Bay on Nuku Hiva Island (Marquesas archipelago, French Polynesia) prompted field investigations to assess the presence of CTXs in T. niloticus. Samples were collected from Anaho Bay, 1, 6 and 28 months after this poisoning outbreak, as well as in Taiohae and Taipivai bays. Toxicity analysis using the neuroblastoma cell-based assay (CBA-N2a) detected the presence of CTXs only in Anaho Bay T. niloticus samples. This is consistent with qPCR results on window screen samples indicating the presence of Gambierdiscus communities dominated by the species G. polynesiensis in Anaho Bay. Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analyses revealed that P-CTX-3B was the major congener, followed by P-CTX-3C, P-CTX-4A and P-CTX-4B in toxic samples. Between July 2014 and November 2016, toxin content in T. niloticus progressively decreased, but was consistently above the safety limit recommended for human consumption. This study confirms for the first time T. niloticus as a novel vector of CFP in French Polynesia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Public Health Outreach to Prevention of Aquatic Toxin Exposure)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle A Dipteran’s Novel Sucker Punch: Evolution of Arthropod Atypical Venom with a Neurotoxic Component in Robber Flies (Asilidae, Diptera)
Toxins 2018, 10(1), 29; doi:10.3390/toxins10010029
Received: 4 December 2017 / Revised: 19 December 2017 / Accepted: 27 December 2017 / Published: 5 January 2018
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Abstract
Predatory robber flies (Diptera, Asilidae) have been suspected to be venomous due to their ability to overpower well-defended prey. However, details of their venom composition and toxin arsenal remained unknown. Here, we provide a detailed characterization of the venom system of robber flies
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Predatory robber flies (Diptera, Asilidae) have been suspected to be venomous due to their ability to overpower well-defended prey. However, details of their venom composition and toxin arsenal remained unknown. Here, we provide a detailed characterization of the venom system of robber flies through the application of comparative transcriptomics, proteomics and functional morphology. Our results reveal asilid venoms to be dominated by peptides and non-enzymatic proteins, and that the majority of components in the crude venom is represented by just ten toxin families, which we have named Asilidin1–10. Contrary to what might be expected for a liquid-feeding predator, the venoms of robber flies appear to be rich in novel peptides, rather than enzymes with a putative pre-digestive role. The novelty of these peptides suggests that the robber fly venom system evolved independently from hematophagous dipterans and other pancrustaceans. Indeed, six Asilidins match no other venom proteins, while three represent known examples of peptide scaffolds convergently recruited to a toxic function. Of these, members of Asilidin1 closely resemble cysteine inhibitor knot peptides (ICK), of which neurotoxic variants occur in cone snails, assassin bugs, scorpions and spiders. Synthesis of one of these putative ICKs, U-Asilidin1-Mar1a, followed by toxicity assays against an ecologically relevant prey model revealed that one of these likely plays a role as a neurotoxin involved in the immobilization of prey. Our results are fundamental to address these insights further and to understand processes that drive venom evolution in dipterans as well as other arthropods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Analysis of Microcystins in Cyanobacterial Blooms from Freshwater Bodies in England
Toxins 2018, 10(1), 39; doi:10.3390/toxins10010039
Received: 29 November 2017 / Revised: 2 January 2018 / Accepted: 8 January 2018 / Published: 11 January 2018
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Abstract
Cyanobacterial blooms in freshwater bodies in England are currently monitored reactively, with samples containing more than 20,000 cells/mL of potentially toxin-producing species by light microscopy resulting in action by the water body owner. Whilst significantly reducing the risk of microcystin exposure, there is
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Cyanobacterial blooms in freshwater bodies in England are currently monitored reactively, with samples containing more than 20,000 cells/mL of potentially toxin-producing species by light microscopy resulting in action by the water body owner. Whilst significantly reducing the risk of microcystin exposure, there is little data describing the levels of these toxins present in cyanobacterial blooms. This study focused on the quantitative LC-MS/MS analysis of microcystins in freshwater samples, collected across England during 2016 and found to contain potentially toxin-producing cyanobacteria. More than 50% of samples contained quantifiable concentrations of microcystins, with approximately 13% exceeding the WHO medium health threshold of 20 μg/L. Toxic samples were confirmed over a nine-month period, with a clear increase in toxins during late summer, but with no apparent geographical patterns. No statistical relationships were found between total toxin concentrations and environmental parameters. Complex toxin profiles were determined and profile clusters were unrelated to cyanobacterial species, although a dominance of MC-RR was determined in water samples from sites associated with lower rainfall. 100% of samples with toxins above the 20 μg/L limit contained cell densities above 20,000 cells/mL or cyanobacterial scum, showing the current regime is suitable for public health. Conversely, with only 18% of cell density threshold samples having total microcystins above 20 μg/L, there is the potential for reactive water closures to unnecessarily impact upon the socio-economics of the local population. In the future, routine analysis of bloom samples by LC-MS/MS would provide a beneficial confirmatory approach to the current microscopic assessment, aiding both public health and the needs of water users and industry. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceArticle Validation of a Method for Cylindrospermopsin Determination in Vegetables: Application to Real Samples Such as Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.)
Toxins 2018, 10(2), 63; doi:10.3390/toxins10020063
Received: 11 January 2018 / Revised: 19 January 2018 / Accepted: 1 February 2018 / Published: 1 February 2018
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Abstract
Reports on the occurrence of the cyanobacterial toxin cylindrospermopsin (CYN) have increased worldwide because of CYN toxic effects in humans and animals. If contaminated waters are used for plant irrigation, these could represent a possible CYN exposure route for humans. For the first
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Reports on the occurrence of the cyanobacterial toxin cylindrospermopsin (CYN) have increased worldwide because of CYN toxic effects in humans and animals. If contaminated waters are used for plant irrigation, these could represent a possible CYN exposure route for humans. For the first time, a method employing solid phase extraction and quantification by ultra-performance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS) of CYN was optimized in vegetables matrices such as lettuce (Lactuca sativa). The validated method showed a linear range, from 5 to 500 ng CYN g−1 of fresh weight (f.w.), and detection and quantitation limits (LOD and LOQ) of 0.22 and 0.42 ng CYN g−1 f.w., respectively. The mean recoveries ranged between 85 and 104%, and the intermediate precision from 12.7 to 14.7%. The method showed to be robust for the three different variables tested. Moreover, it was successfully applied to quantify CYN in edible lettuce leaves exposed to CYN-contaminated water (10 µg L−1), showing that the tolerable daily intake (TDI) in the case of CYN could be exceeded in elderly high consumers. The validated method showed good results in terms of sensitivity, precision, accuracy, and robustness for CYN determination in leaf vegetables such as lettuce. More studies are needed in order to prevent the risks associated with the consumption of CYN-contaminated vegetables. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Selected Papers from the 5th Iberoamerican Cyanotoxins Meeting)
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceArticle Revisiting the Therapeutic Potential of Bothrops jararaca Venom: Screening for Novel Activities Using Connectivity Mapping
Toxins 2018, 10(2), 69; doi:10.3390/toxins10020069
Received: 27 November 2017 / Revised: 30 January 2018 / Accepted: 2 February 2018 / Published: 6 February 2018
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Abstract
Snake venoms are sources of molecules with proven and potential therapeutic applications. However, most activities assayed in venoms (or their components) are of hemorrhagic, hypotensive, edematogenic, neurotoxic or myotoxic natures. Thus, other relevant activities might remain unknown. Using functional genomics coupled to the
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Snake venoms are sources of molecules with proven and potential therapeutic applications. However, most activities assayed in venoms (or their components) are of hemorrhagic, hypotensive, edematogenic, neurotoxic or myotoxic natures. Thus, other relevant activities might remain unknown. Using functional genomics coupled to the connectivity map (C-map) approach, we undertook a wide range indirect search for biological activities within the venom of the South American pit viper Bothrops jararaca. For that effect, venom was incubated with human breast adenocarcinoma cell line (MCF7) followed by RNA extraction and gene expression analysis. A list of 90 differentially expressed genes was submitted to biosimilar drug discovery based on pattern recognition. Among the 100 highest-ranked positively correlated drugs, only the antihypertensive, antimicrobial (both antibiotic and antiparasitic), and antitumor classes had been previously reported for B. jararaca venom. The majority of drug classes identified were related to (1) antimicrobial activity; (2) treatment of neuropsychiatric illnesses (Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, depression, and epilepsy); (3) treatment of cardiovascular diseases, and (4) anti-inflammatory action. The C-map results also indicated that B. jararaca venom may have components that target G-protein-coupled receptors (muscarinic, serotonergic, histaminergic, dopaminergic, GABA, and adrenergic) and ion channels. Although validation experiments are still necessary, the C-map correlation to drugs with activities previously linked to snake venoms supports the efficacy of this strategy as a broad-spectrum approach for biological activity screening, and rekindles the snake venom-based search for new therapeutic agents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle PhcrTx2, a New Crab-Paralyzing Peptide Toxin from the Sea Anemone Phymanthus crucifer
Toxins 2018, 10(2), 72; doi:10.3390/toxins10020072
Received: 22 January 2018 / Revised: 1 February 2018 / Accepted: 2 February 2018 / Published: 7 February 2018
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Abstract
Sea anemones produce proteinaceous toxins for predation and defense, including peptide toxins that act on a large variety of ion channels of pharmacological and biomedical interest. Phymanthus crucifer is commonly found in the Caribbean Sea; however, the chemical structure and biological activity of
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Sea anemones produce proteinaceous toxins for predation and defense, including peptide toxins that act on a large variety of ion channels of pharmacological and biomedical interest. Phymanthus crucifer is commonly found in the Caribbean Sea; however, the chemical structure and biological activity of its toxins remain unknown, with the exception of PhcrTx1, an acid-sensing ion channel (ASIC) inhibitor. Therefore, in the present work, we focused on the isolation and characterization of new P. crucifer toxins by chromatographic fractionation, followed by a toxicity screening on crabs, an evaluation of ion channels, and sequence analysis. Five groups of toxic chromatographic fractions were found, and a new paralyzing toxin was purified and named PhcrTx2. The toxin inhibited glutamate-gated currents in snail neurons (maximum inhibition of 35%, IC50 4.7 µM), and displayed little or no influence on voltage-sensitive sodium/potassium channels in snail and rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons, nor on a variety of cloned voltage-gated ion channels. The toxin sequence was fully elucidated by Edman degradation. PhcrTx2 is a new β-defensin-fold peptide that shares a sequence similarity to type 3 potassium channels toxins. However, its low activity on the evaluated ion channels suggests that its molecular target remains unknown. PhcrTx2 is the first known paralyzing toxin in the family Phymanthidae. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceArticle Fatal Canine Intoxications Linked to the Presence of Saxitoxins in Stranded Marine Organisms Following Winter Storm Activity
Toxins 2018, 10(3), 94; doi:10.3390/toxins10030094
Received: 6 February 2018 / Revised: 19 February 2018 / Accepted: 21 February 2018 / Published: 26 February 2018
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Abstract
At the start of 2018, multiple incidents of dog illnesses were reported following consumption of marine species washed up onto the beaches of eastern England after winter storms. Over a two-week period, nine confirmed illnesses including two canine deaths were recorded. Symptoms in
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At the start of 2018, multiple incidents of dog illnesses were reported following consumption of marine species washed up onto the beaches of eastern England after winter storms. Over a two-week period, nine confirmed illnesses including two canine deaths were recorded. Symptoms in the affected dogs included sickness, loss of motor control, and muscle paralysis. Samples of flatfish, starfish, and crab from the beaches in the affected areas were analysed for a suite of naturally occurring marine neurotoxins of dinoflagellate origin. Toxins causing paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) were detected and quantified using two independent chemical testing methods in samples of all three marine types, with concentrations over 14,000 µg saxitoxin (STX) eq/kg found in one starfish sample. Further evidence for PSP intoxication of the dogs was obtained with the positive identification of PSP toxins in a vomited crab sample from one deceased dog and in gastrointestinal samples collected post mortem from a second affected dog. Together, this is the first report providing evidence of starfish being implicated in a PSP intoxication case and the first report of PSP in canines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Paralytic Shellfish Toxins)
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceArticle Prorocentrolide-A from Cultured Prorocentrum lima Dinoflagellates Collected in Japan Blocks Sub-Types of Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors
Toxins 2018, 10(3), 97; doi:10.3390/toxins10030097
Received: 29 January 2018 / Revised: 19 February 2018 / Accepted: 23 February 2018 / Published: 28 February 2018
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Abstract
Prorocentrolides are members of the cyclic imine phycotoxins family. Their chemical structure includes a 26-membered carbo-macrocycle and a 28-membered macrocyclic lactone arranged around a hexahydroisoquinoline that incorporates the characteristic cyclic imine group. Six prorocentrolides are already known. However, their mode of action remains
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Prorocentrolides are members of the cyclic imine phycotoxins family. Their chemical structure includes a 26-membered carbo-macrocycle and a 28-membered macrocyclic lactone arranged around a hexahydroisoquinoline that incorporates the characteristic cyclic imine group. Six prorocentrolides are already known. However, their mode of action remains undetermined. The aim of the present work was to explore whether prorocentrolide-A acts on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), using competition-binding assays and electrophysiological techniques. Prorocentrolide-A displaced [125I]α-bungarotoxin binding to Torpedo membranes, expressing the muscle-type (α12β1γδ) nAChR, and in HEK-293 cells, expressing the chimeric chick neuronal α7-5HT3 nAChR. Functional studies revealed that prorocentrolide-A had no agonist action on nAChRs, but inhibited ACh-induced currents in Xenopus oocytes that had incorporated the muscle-type α12β1γδ nAChR to their membranes, or that expressed the human α7 nAChR, as revealed by voltage-clamp recordings. Molecular docking calculations showed the absence of the characteristic hydrogen bond between the iminium group of prorocentrolide-A and the backbone carbonyl group of Trp147 in the receptor, explaining its weaker affinity as compared to all other cyclic imine toxins. In conclusion, this is the first study to show that prorocentrolide-A acts on both muscle and neuronal nAChRs, but with higher affinity on the muscle-type nAChR. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Public Health Outreach to Prevention of Aquatic Toxin Exposure)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Repeated Dietary Exposure to Low Levels of Domoic Acid and Problems with Everyday Memory: Research to Public Health Outreach
Toxins 2018, 10(3), 103; doi:10.3390/toxins10030103
Received: 31 January 2018 / Revised: 20 February 2018 / Accepted: 23 February 2018 / Published: 28 February 2018
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Abstract
Domoic Acid (DA) is a marine-based neurotoxin. Dietary exposure to high levels of DA via shellfish consumption has been associated with Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning, with milder memory decrements found in Native Americans (NAs) with repetitive, lower level exposures. Despite its importance for protective
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Domoic Acid (DA) is a marine-based neurotoxin. Dietary exposure to high levels of DA via shellfish consumption has been associated with Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning, with milder memory decrements found in Native Americans (NAs) with repetitive, lower level exposures. Despite its importance for protective action, the clinical relevance of these milder memory problems remains unknown. The purpose of this study was to determine whether repeated, lower-level exposures to DA impact everyday memory (EM), i.e., the frequency of memory failures in everyday life. A cross-sectional sample of 60 NA men and women from the Pacific NW was studied with measures of dietary exposure to DA via razor clam (RC) consumption and EM. Findings indicated an association between problems with EM and elevated consumption of RCs with low levels of DA throughout the previous week and past year after controlling for age, sex, and education. NAs who eat a lot of RCs with presumably safe levels of DA are at risk for clinically significant memory problems. Public health outreach to minimize repetitive exposures are now in place and were facilitated by the use of community-based participatory research methods, with active involvement of state regulatory agencies, tribe leaders, and local physicians. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Public Health Outreach to Prevention of Aquatic Toxin Exposure)
Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Genotoxic and Cytotoxic Effects on the Immune Cells of the Freshwater Bivalve Dreissena polymorpha Exposed to the Environmental Neurotoxin BMAA
Toxins 2018, 10(3), 106; doi:10.3390/toxins10030106
Received: 22 December 2017 / Revised: 14 February 2018 / Accepted: 23 February 2018 / Published: 1 March 2018
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Abstract
The environmental neurotoxin β-N-Methylamino-l-alanine (BMAA) has been pointed out to be involved in human neurodegenerative diseases. This molecule is known to be bioaccumulated by bivalves. However, little data about its toxic effects on freshwater mussels is available, particularly on
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The environmental neurotoxin β-N-Methylamino-l-alanine (BMAA) has been pointed out to be involved in human neurodegenerative diseases. This molecule is known to be bioaccumulated by bivalves. However, little data about its toxic effects on freshwater mussels is available, particularly on the hemolymphatic compartment and its hemocyte cells involved in various physiological processes such as immune defenses, digestion and excretion, tissue repair, and shell production. Here we exposed Dreissena polymorpha to dissolved BMAA, at the environmental concentration of 7.5 µg of /mussel/3 days, during 21 days followed by 14 days of depuration in clear water, with the objective of assessing the BMAA presence in the hemolymphatic compartment, as well as the impact of the hemocyte cells in terms of potential cytotoxicity, immunotoxicity, and genotoxiciy. Data showed that hemocytes were in contact with BMAA. The presence of BMAA in hemolymph did not induce significant effect on hemocytes phagocytosis activity. However, significant DNA damage on hemocytes occurred during the first week (days 3 and 8) of BMAA exposure, followed by an increase of hemocyte mortality after 2 weeks of exposure. Those effects might be an indirect consequence of the BMAA-induced oxidative stress in cells. However, DNA strand breaks and mortality did not persist during the entire exposure, despite the BMAA persistence in the hemolymph, suggesting potential induction of some DNA-repair mechanisms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Marine and Freshwater Toxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle Warming Affects Growth Rates and Microcystin Production in Tropical Bloom-Forming Microcystis Strains
Toxins 2018, 10(3), 123; doi:10.3390/toxins10030123
Received: 6 January 2018 / Revised: 27 February 2018 / Accepted: 12 March 2018 / Published: 14 March 2018
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Abstract
Warming climate is predicted to promote cyanobacterial blooms but the toxicity of cyanobacteria under global warming is less well studied. We tested the hypothesis that raising temperature may lead to increased growth rates but to decreased microcystin (MC) production in tropical Microcystis strains.
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Warming climate is predicted to promote cyanobacterial blooms but the toxicity of cyanobacteria under global warming is less well studied. We tested the hypothesis that raising temperature may lead to increased growth rates but to decreased microcystin (MC) production in tropical Microcystis strains. To this end, six Microcystis strains were isolated from different water bodies in Southern Vietnam. They were grown in triplicate at 27 °C (low), 31 °C (medium), 35 °C (high) and 37 °C (extreme). Chlorophyll-a-, particle- and MC concentrations as well as dry-weights were determined. All strains yielded higher biomass in terms of chlorophyll-a concentration and dry-weight at 31 °C compared to 27 °C and then either stabilised, slightly increased or declined with higher temperature. Five strains easily grew at 37 °C but one could not survive at 37 °C. When temperature was increased from 27 °C to 37 °C total MC concentration decreased by 35% in strains with MC-LR as the dominant variant and by 94% in strains with MC-RR. MC quota expressed per particle, per unit chlorophyll-a and per unit dry-weight significantly declined with higher temperatures. This study shows that warming can prompt the growth of some tropical Microcystis strains but that these strains become less toxic. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview Forthcoming Challenges in Mycotoxins Toxicology Research for Safer Food—A Need for Multi-Omics Approach
Toxins 2017, 9(1), 18; doi:10.3390/toxins9010018
Received: 4 November 2016 / Revised: 29 December 2016 / Accepted: 2 January 2017 / Published: 4 January 2017
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Abstract
The presence of mycotoxins in food represents a severe threat for public health and welfare, and poses relevant research challenges in the food toxicology field. Nowadays, food toxicologists have to provide answers to food-related toxicological issues, but at the same time they should
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The presence of mycotoxins in food represents a severe threat for public health and welfare, and poses relevant research challenges in the food toxicology field. Nowadays, food toxicologists have to provide answers to food-related toxicological issues, but at the same time they should provide the appropriate knowledge in background to effectively support the evidence-based decision-making in food safety. Therefore, keeping in mind that regulatory actions should be based on sound scientific findings, the present opinion addresses the main challenges in providing reliable data for supporting the risk assessment of foodborne mycotoxins. Full article
(This article belongs to the collection Leading Opinions (Closed))
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview Historical Perspectives and Guidelines for Botulinum Neurotoxin Subtype Nomenclature
Toxins 2017, 9(1), 38; doi:10.3390/toxins9010038
Received: 9 December 2016 / Revised: 4 January 2017 / Accepted: 7 January 2017 / Published: 18 January 2017
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Abstract
Botulinum neurotoxins are diverse proteins. They are currently represented by at least seven serotypes and more than 40 subtypes. New clostridial strains that produce novel neurotoxin variants are being identified with increasing frequency, which presents challenges when organizing the nomenclature surrounding these neurotoxins.
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Botulinum neurotoxins are diverse proteins. They are currently represented by at least seven serotypes and more than 40 subtypes. New clostridial strains that produce novel neurotoxin variants are being identified with increasing frequency, which presents challenges when organizing the nomenclature surrounding these neurotoxins. Worldwide, researchers are faced with the possibility that toxins having identical sequences may be given different designations or novel toxins having unique sequences may be given the same designations on publication. In order to minimize these problems, an ad hoc committee consisting of over 20 researchers in the field of botulinum neurotoxin research was convened to discuss the clarification of the issues involved in botulinum neurotoxin nomenclature. This publication presents a historical overview of the issues and provides guidelines for botulinum neurotoxin subtype nomenclature in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Bacterial Toxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview Protection against Shiga Toxins
Toxins 2017, 9(2), 44; doi:10.3390/toxins9020044
Received: 29 December 2016 / Revised: 18 January 2017 / Accepted: 19 January 2017 / Published: 3 February 2017
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Abstract
Shiga toxins consist of an A-moiety and five B-moieties able to bind the neutral glycosphingolipid globotriaosylceramide (Gb3) on the cell surface. To intoxicate cells efficiently, the toxin A-moiety has to be cleaved by furin and transported retrogradely to the Golgi apparatus and to
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Shiga toxins consist of an A-moiety and five B-moieties able to bind the neutral glycosphingolipid globotriaosylceramide (Gb3) on the cell surface. To intoxicate cells efficiently, the toxin A-moiety has to be cleaved by furin and transported retrogradely to the Golgi apparatus and to the endoplasmic reticulum. The enzymatically active part of the A-moiety is then translocated to the cytosol, where it inhibits protein synthesis and in some cell types induces apoptosis. Protection of cells can be provided either by inhibiting binding of the toxin to cells or by interfering with any of the subsequent steps required for its toxic effect. In this article we provide a brief overview of the interaction of Shiga toxins with cells, describe some compounds and conditions found to protect cells against Shiga toxins, and discuss whether they might also provide protection in animals and humans. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview Fungal Ribotoxins: A Review of Potential Biotechnological Applications
Toxins 2017, 9(2), 71; doi:10.3390/toxins9020071
Received: 11 January 2017 / Revised: 14 February 2017 / Accepted: 16 February 2017 / Published: 21 February 2017
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Abstract
Fungi establish a complex network of biological interactions with other organisms in nature. In many cases, these involve the production of toxins for survival or colonization purposes. Among these toxins, ribotoxins stand out as promising candidates for their use in biotechnological applications. They
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Fungi establish a complex network of biological interactions with other organisms in nature. In many cases, these involve the production of toxins for survival or colonization purposes. Among these toxins, ribotoxins stand out as promising candidates for their use in biotechnological applications. They constitute a group of highly specific extracellular ribonucleases that target a universally conserved sequence of RNA in the ribosome, the sarcin-ricin loop. The detailed molecular study of this family of toxic proteins over the past decades has highlighted their potential in applied research. Remarkable examples would be the recent studies in the field of cancer research with promising results involving ribotoxin-based immunotoxins. On the other hand, some ribotoxin-producer fungi have already been studied in the control of insect pests. The recent role of ribotoxins as insecticides could allow their employment in formulas and even as baculovirus-based biopesticides. Moreover, considering the important role of their target in the ribosome, they can be used as tools to study how ribosome biogenesis is regulated and, eventually, may contribute to a better understanding of some ribosomopathies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Mycotoxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview Helicobacter pylori Outer Membrane Protein-Related Pathogenesis
Toxins 2017, 9(3), 101; doi:10.3390/toxins9030101
Received: 9 February 2017 / Revised: 8 March 2017 / Accepted: 9 March 2017 / Published: 11 March 2017
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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
(This article belongs to the Special Issue H. pylori Virulence Factors in the Induction of Gastric Cancer)
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceReview The Biology of Pichia membranifaciens Killer Toxins
Toxins 2017, 9(4), 112; doi:10.3390/toxins9040112
Received: 10 February 2017 / Revised: 7 March 2017 / Accepted: 20 March 2017 / Published: 23 March 2017
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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
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Yeast Killer Toxins)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview 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
Received: 29 January 2017 / Revised: 20 March 2017 / Accepted: 22 March 2017 / Published: 24 March 2017
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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
(This article belongs to the Special Issue H. pylori Virulence Factors in the Induction of Gastric Cancer)
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceReview NF‐κB Signaling in Gastric Cancer
Toxins 2017, 9(4), 119; doi:10.3390/toxins9040119
Received: 3 February 2017 / Revised: 14 March 2017 / Accepted: 22 March 2017 / Published: 28 March 2017
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Abstract
Gastric cancer is a leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Diet, obesity, smoking and chronic infections, especially with Helicobacter pylori, contribute to stomach cancer development. H. pylori possesses a variety of virulence factors including encoded factors from the cytotoxin‐associated gene pathogenicity island (cagPAI)
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Gastric cancer is a leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Diet, obesity, smoking and chronic infections, especially with Helicobacter pylori, contribute to stomach cancer development. H. pylori possesses a variety of virulence factors including encoded factors from the cytotoxin‐associated gene pathogenicity island (cagPAI) or vacuolating cytotoxin A (VacA). Most of the cagPAI‐encoded products form a type 4 secretion system (T4SS), a pilus‐like macromolecular transporter, which translocates CagA into the cytoplasm of the host cell. Only H. pylori strains carrying the cagPAI induce the transcription factor NF‐κB, but CagA and VacA are dispensable for direct NF‐κB activation. NF‐κB‐driven gene products include cytokines/chemokines, growth factors, anti‐apoptotic factors, angiogenesis regulators and metalloproteinases. Many of the genes transcribed by NF‐κB promote gastric carcinogenesis. Since it has been shown that chemotherapy‐caused cellular stress could elicit activation of the survival factor NF‐κB, which leads to acquisition of chemoresistance, the NF‐κB system is recommended for therapeutic targeting. Research is motivated for further search of predisposing conditions, diagnostic markers and efficient drugs to improve significantly the overall survival of patients. In this review, we provide an overview about mechanisms and consequences of NF‐κB activation in gastric mucosa in order to understand the role of NF‐κB in gastric carcinogenesis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue H. pylori Virulence Factors in the Induction of Gastric Cancer)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview Proteolysis in Helicobacter pylori-Induced Gastric Cancer
Toxins 2017, 9(4), 134; doi:10.3390/toxins9040134
Received: 14 February 2017 / Revised: 3 April 2017 / Accepted: 6 April 2017 / Published: 11 April 2017
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Abstract
Persistent infections with the human pathogen and class-I carcinogen Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) are closely associated with the development of acute and chronic gastritis, ulceration, gastric adenocarcinoma and lymphoma of the mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) system. Disruption and depolarization of the
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Persistent infections with the human pathogen and class-I carcinogen Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) are closely associated with the development of acute and chronic gastritis, ulceration, gastric adenocarcinoma and lymphoma of the mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) system. Disruption and depolarization of the epithelium is a hallmark of H. pylori-associated disorders and requires extensive modulation of epithelial cell surface structures. Hence, the complex network of controlled proteolysis which facilitates tissue homeostasis in healthy individuals is deregulated and crucially contributes to the induction and progression of gastric cancer through processing of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, cell surface receptors, membrane-bound cytokines, and lateral adhesion molecules. Here, we summarize the recent reports on mechanisms how H. pylori utilizes a variety of extracellular proteases, involving the proteases Hp0169 and high temperature requirement A (HtrA) of bacterial origin, and host matrix-metalloproteinases (MMPs), a disintegrin and metalloproteinases (ADAMs) and tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs). H. pylori-regulated proteases represent predictive biomarkers and attractive targets for therapeutic interventions in gastric cancer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue H. pylori Virulence Factors in the Induction of Gastric Cancer)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview Toxins of Prokaryotic Toxin-Antitoxin Systems with Sequence-Specific Endoribonuclease Activity
Toxins 2017, 9(4), 140; doi:10.3390/toxins9040140
Received: 15 February 2017 / Revised: 9 April 2017 / Accepted: 10 April 2017 / Published: 14 April 2017
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Abstract
Protein translation is the most common target of toxin-antitoxin system (TA) toxins. Sequence-specific endoribonucleases digest RNA in a sequence-specific manner, thereby blocking translation. While past studies mainly focused on the digestion of mRNA, recent analysis revealed that toxins can also digest tRNA, rRNA
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Protein translation is the most common target of toxin-antitoxin system (TA) toxins. Sequence-specific endoribonucleases digest RNA in a sequence-specific manner, thereby blocking translation. While past studies mainly focused on the digestion of mRNA, recent analysis revealed that toxins can also digest tRNA, rRNA and tmRNA. Purified toxins can digest single-stranded portions of RNA containing recognition sequences in the absence of ribosome in vitro. However, increasing evidence suggests that in vivo digestion may occur in association with ribosomes. Despite the prevalence of recognition sequences in many mRNA, preferential digestion seems to occur at specific positions within mRNA and also in certain reading frames. In this review, a variety of tools utilized to study the nuclease activities of toxins over the past 15 years will be reviewed. A recent adaptation of an RNA-seq-based technique to analyze entire sets of cellular RNA will be introduced with an emphasis on its strength in identifying novel targets and redefining recognition sequences. The differences in biochemical properties and postulated physiological roles will also be discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Bacterial Toxins)
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceReview Antivenom for Neuromuscular Paralysis Resulting From Snake Envenoming
Toxins 2017, 9(4), 143; doi:10.3390/toxins9040143
Received: 22 March 2017 / Revised: 11 April 2017 / Accepted: 13 April 2017 / Published: 19 April 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (425 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Antivenom therapy is currently the standard practice for treating neuromuscular dysfunction in snake envenoming. We reviewed the clinical and experimental evidence-base for the efficacy and effectiveness of antivenom in snakebite neurotoxicity. The main site of snake neurotoxins is the neuromuscular junction, and the
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Antivenom therapy is currently the standard practice for treating neuromuscular dysfunction in snake envenoming. We reviewed the clinical and experimental evidence-base for the efficacy and effectiveness of antivenom in snakebite neurotoxicity. The main site of snake neurotoxins is the neuromuscular junction, and the majority are either: (1) pre-synaptic neurotoxins irreversibly damaging the presynaptic terminal; or (2) post-synaptic neurotoxins that bind to the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor. Pre-clinical tests of antivenom efficacy for neurotoxicity include rodent lethality tests, which are problematic, and in vitro pharmacological tests such as nerve-muscle preparation studies, that appear to provide more clinically meaningful information. We searched MEDLINE (from 1946) and EMBASE (from 1947) until March 2017 for clinical studies. The search yielded no randomised placebo-controlled trials of antivenom for neuromuscular dysfunction. There were several randomised and non-randomised comparative trials that compared two or more doses of the same or different antivenom, and numerous cohort studies and case reports. The majority of studies available had deficiencies including poor case definition, poor study design, small sample size or no objective measures of paralysis. A number of studies demonstrated the efficacy of antivenom in human envenoming by clearing circulating venom. Studies of snakes with primarily pre-synaptic neurotoxins, such as kraits (Bungarus spp.) and taipans (Oxyuranus spp.) suggest that antivenom does not reverse established neurotoxicity, but early administration may be associated with decreased severity or prevent neurotoxicity. Small studies of snakes with mainly post-synaptic neurotoxins, including some cobra species (Naja spp.), provide preliminary evidence that neurotoxicity may be reversed with antivenom, but placebo controlled studies with objective outcome measures are required to confirm this. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Use of Antibodies/Antivenom Against Envenoming)
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceReview Preclinical Evaluation of the Efficacy of Antivenoms for Snakebite Envenoming: State-of-the-Art and Challenges Ahead
Toxins 2017, 9(5), 163; doi:10.3390/toxins9050163
Received: 22 March 2017 / Revised: 17 April 2017 / Accepted: 10 May 2017 / Published: 13 May 2017
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (1494 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Animal-derived antivenoms constitute the mainstay in the therapy of snakebite envenoming. The efficacy of antivenoms to neutralize toxicity of medically-relevant snake venoms has to be demonstrated through meticulous preclinical testing before their introduction into the clinical setting. The gold standard in the preclinical
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Animal-derived antivenoms constitute the mainstay in the therapy of snakebite envenoming. The efficacy of antivenoms to neutralize toxicity of medically-relevant snake venoms has to be demonstrated through meticulous preclinical testing before their introduction into the clinical setting. The gold standard in the preclinical assessment and quality control of antivenoms is the neutralization of venom-induced lethality. In addition, depending on the pathophysiological profile of snake venoms, the neutralization of other toxic activities has t