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Toxins 2018, 10(5), 175; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins10050175

Exploiting Botulinum Neurotoxins for the Study of Brain Physiology and Pathology

CNR Neuroscience Institute, via G. Moruzzi 1, 56124 Pisa, Italy
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Received: 31 March 2018 / Revised: 21 April 2018 / Accepted: 23 April 2018 / Published: 25 April 2018
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Abstract

Botulinum neurotoxins are metalloproteases that specifically cleave N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE) proteins in synaptic terminals, resulting in a potent inhibition of vesicle fusion and transmitter release. The family comprises different serotypes (BoNT/A to BoNT/G). The natural target of these toxins is represented by the neuromuscular junction, where BoNTs block acetylcholine release. In this review, we describe the actions of botulinum toxins after direct delivery to the central nervous system (CNS), where BoNTs block exocytosis of several transmitters, with near-complete silencing of neural networks. The use of clostridial neurotoxins in the CNS has allowed us to investigate specifically the role of synaptic activity in different physiological and pathological processes. The silencing properties of BoNTs can be exploited for therapeutic purposes, for example to counteract pathological hyperactivity and seizures in epileptogenic brain foci, or to investigate the role of activity in degenerative diseases like prion disease. Altogether, clostridial neurotoxins and their derivatives hold promise as powerful tools for both the basic understanding of brain function and the dissection and treatment of activity-dependent pathogenic pathways. View Full-Text
Keywords: synaptic transmission; SNAP-25; epilepsy; Parkinson’s disease; neurotransmission blockade; electrical activity; prion disease synaptic transmission; SNAP-25; epilepsy; Parkinson’s disease; neurotransmission blockade; electrical activity; prion disease
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Caleo, M.; Restani, L. Exploiting Botulinum Neurotoxins for the Study of Brain Physiology and Pathology. Toxins 2018, 10, 175.

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