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Toxins, Volume 12, Issue 10 (October 2020) – 59 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): This study revealed wide-spread convergence in the resistance to snake venom alpha-neurotoxins imparted by steric impedance. This resistance is accomplished by a mutation that attaches a branching glycan to an arginine, thereby physically blocking the binding by the large snake venom neurotoxic peptides but allowing the passage of the small endogenous neurotransmitter acetylcholine. View this paper
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Article
New Insights in Saccharomyces cerevisiae Response to the Cyanotoxin Microcystin-LR, Revealed by Proteomics and Gene Expression
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 667; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100667 - 21 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 956
Abstract
Microcystins (MCs) are hepatotoxins produced by some cyanobacteria. They are cyclic peptides that inhibit the serine/threonine protein phosphatases (PPs) PP1 and PP2A, especially PP2A. The inhibition of PP2A triggers a series of molecular events, which are responsible for most MC cytotoxic and genotoxic [...] Read more.
Microcystins (MCs) are hepatotoxins produced by some cyanobacteria. They are cyclic peptides that inhibit the serine/threonine protein phosphatases (PPs) PP1 and PP2A, especially PP2A. The inhibition of PP2A triggers a series of molecular events, which are responsible for most MC cytotoxic and genotoxic effects on animal cells. It is also known that MCs induce oxidative stress in cells due to the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). However, a complete characterization of the toxic effects of MCs is still not accomplished. This study aimed to clarify additional molecular mechanisms involved in MC-LR toxicity, using Saccharomyces cerevisiae as eukaryotic model organism. First, a shotgun proteomic analysis of S. cerevisiae VL3 cells response to 1 nM, 10 nM, 100 nM, and 1 μM MC-LR was undertaken and compared to the control (cells not exposed to MC-LR). This analysis revealed a high number of proteins differentially expressed related with gene translation and DNA replication stress; oxidative stress; cell cycle regulation and carbohydrate metabolism. Inference of genotoxic effects of S. cerevisiae VL3 cells exposed to different concentrations of MC-LR were evaluated by analyzing the expression of genes Apn1, Apn2, Rad27, Ntg1, and Ntg2 (from the Base Excision Repair (BER) DNA repair system) using the Real-Time RT-qPCR technique. These genes displayed alterations after exposure to MC-LR, particularly the Apn1/Apn2/Rad27, pointing out effects of MC-LR in the Base Excision Repair system (BER). Overall, this study supports the role of oxidative stress and DNA replication stress as important molecular mechanisms of MC-LR toxicity. Moreover, this study showed that even at low-concentration, MC-LR can induce significant changes in the yeast proteome and in gene expression. Full article
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Article
Neurotrophic Properties of C-Terminal Domain of the Heavy Chain of Tetanus Toxin on Motor Neuron Disease
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 666; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100666 - 21 Oct 2020
Viewed by 796
Abstract
The carboxyl-terminal domain of the heavy chain of tetanus toxin (Hc-TeTx) exerts a neuroprotective effect in neurodegenerative diseases via the activation of signaling pathways related to neurotrophins, and also through inhibiting apoptotic cell death. Here, we demonstrate that Hc-TeTx preserves motoneurons from chronic [...] Read more.
The carboxyl-terminal domain of the heavy chain of tetanus toxin (Hc-TeTx) exerts a neuroprotective effect in neurodegenerative diseases via the activation of signaling pathways related to neurotrophins, and also through inhibiting apoptotic cell death. Here, we demonstrate that Hc-TeTx preserves motoneurons from chronic excitotoxicity in an in vitro model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Furthermore, we found that PI3-K/Akt pathway, but not p21ras/MAPK pathway, is involved in their beneficial effects under chronic excitotoxicity. Moreover, we corroborate the capacity of the Hc-TeTx to be transported retrogradely into the spinal motor neurons and also its capacity to bind to the motoneuron-like cell line NSC-34. These findings suggest a possible therapeutic tool to improve motoneuron preservation in neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Clostridium Neurotoxins)
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Article
Transcriptomic Insights into the Antifungal Effects of Magnolol on the Growth and Mycotoxin Production of Alternaria alternata
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 665; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100665 - 20 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 823
Abstract
Alternaria alternata is an important phytopathogen causing fruit black rot and also producing a variety of mycotoxins, such as alternariol (AOH) and alternariol monomethyl ether (AME) as two main contaminants. This could lead to economic losses of agricultural products as well as human [...] Read more.
Alternaria alternata is an important phytopathogen causing fruit black rot and also producing a variety of mycotoxins, such as alternariol (AOH) and alternariol monomethyl ether (AME) as two main contaminants. This could lead to economic losses of agricultural products as well as human health risks. In this study, magnolol extracted from the traditional Chinese herb, Mangnolia officinalis, exhibited an obvious antifungal property and could completely suppress the mycelial growth at 100 μM. Morphological differences of A. alternata were observed to be significantly shrunk and wrinkled after the exposure to magnolol. Furthermore, AOH and AME were no longer produced in response to 50 μM of magnolol. To uncover the antifungal and antimycotoxigenic mechanisms, the transcriptomic profiles of A. alternata—treated with or without magnolol—were evaluated. The clustered genes responsible for AOH and AME biosynthesis were obviously less transcribed under magnolol stress and this was further confirmed by qRT-PCR. The global regulators of carbon and nitrogen utilization, such as CreA and NmrA, were significantly down-regulated and this possibly caused the reduction in mycotoxins. In addition, fatty acid β-oxidation was regarded to contribute to polyketide mycotoxin production for the supply of precursor acetyl-CoA while the expression of these related genes was inhibited. The response to magnolol led to the marked alteration of oxidative stress and the down-expression of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway from the transcriptome data and the determination of peroxidase (POD), superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione (GSH) assays. This above might be the very reason for the growth supression and mycotoxin production of A. alternata by magnolol. This study provides new insights into its potential as an important active ingredient for the control of A. alternata and its mycotoxins in fruits and their products. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Detection and Prevention Technologies for Toxins)
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Review
Toxin Degradation by Rumen Microorganisms: A Review
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 664; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100664 - 20 Oct 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1336
Abstract
Animal feeds may contain exogenous compounds that can induce toxicity when ruminants ingest them. These toxins are secondary metabolites originating from various sources including plants, bacteria, algae and fungi. Animal feed toxins are responsible for various animal poisonings which negatively impact the livestock [...] Read more.
Animal feeds may contain exogenous compounds that can induce toxicity when ruminants ingest them. These toxins are secondary metabolites originating from various sources including plants, bacteria, algae and fungi. Animal feed toxins are responsible for various animal poisonings which negatively impact the livestock industry. Poisoning is more frequently reported in newly exposed, naïve ruminants while ‘experienced’ ruminants are observed to better tolerate toxin-contaminated feed. Ruminants can possess detoxification ability through rumen microorganisms with the rumen microbiome able to adapt to utilise toxic secondary metabolites. The ability of rumen microorganisms to metabolise these toxins has been used as a basis for the development of preventative probiotics to confer resistance against the poisoning to naïve ruminants. In this review, detoxification of various toxins, which include plant toxins, cyanobacteria toxins and plant-associated fungal mycotoxins, by rumen microorganisms is discussed. The review will include clinical studies of the animal poisoning caused by these toxins, the toxin mechanism of action, toxin degradation by rumen microorganisms, reported and hypothesised detoxification mechanisms and identified toxin metabolites with their toxicity compared to their parent toxin. This review highlights the commercial potential of rumen inoculum derived probiotics as viable means of improving ruminant health and production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Plant Toxins Affecting Animal Health and Production)
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Editorial
The Presence of Mycotoxins in Feed and Their Influence on Animal Health
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 663; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100663 - 20 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 768
Abstract
Mycotoxins are secondary metabolites of fungi [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mycotoxins Occurence in Feed and Their Influence on Animal Health)
Article
Clinical Features and Management of Snakebite Envenoming in French Guiana
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 662; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100662 - 19 Oct 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 820
Abstract
The management of snakebite (SB) envenoming in French Guiana (FG) is based on symptomatic measures and antivenom (AV) administration (Antivipmyn Tri®; Instituto Bioclon—Mexico). Our study aimed to assess clinical manifestations, the efficacy, and safety of Antivipmyn Tri® in the management [...] Read more.
The management of snakebite (SB) envenoming in French Guiana (FG) is based on symptomatic measures and antivenom (AV) administration (Antivipmyn Tri®; Instituto Bioclon—Mexico). Our study aimed to assess clinical manifestations, the efficacy, and safety of Antivipmyn Tri® in the management of SB. Our study is a prospective observational work. It was conducted in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Cayenne General Hospital between 1 January 2016 and 31 December 2019. We included all patients hospitalized for SB envenoming. Our study contained three groups (without AV, three vials, and six vials Antivipmyn Tri®). During the study period, 133 patients were included. The main clinical symptoms were edema (98.5%), pain (97.7%), systemic hemorrhage (18%), blister (14.3%), and local hemorrhage (14.3%). AV was prescribed for 83 patients (62.3%), and 17 of them (20%) developed early adverse reactions. Biological parameters at admission showed defibrinogenation in 124 cases (93.2%), International Normalized Ratio (INR) > 2 in 104 cases (78.2%), and partial thromboplastin time (PTT) > 1.5 in 74 cases (55.6%). The time from SB to AV was 9:00 (5:22–20:40). The median time from SB to achieve a normal dosage of fibrinogen was 47:00 vs. 25:30, that of Factor II was 24:55 vs. 15:10, that of Factor V was 31:42 vs. 19:42, and that of Factor VIII was 21:30 vs. 10:20 in patients without and with AV, respectively, (p < 0.001 for all factors). Patients receiving Antivipmyn Tri® showed a reduction in the time to return to normal clotting tests, as compared to those who did not. We suggest assessing other antivenoms available in the region to compare their efficacy and safety with Antivipmyn Tri® in FG. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Novel Strategies for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Snakebites)
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Article
Safety and Stability of Pulmonary Function in Patients with Decreased Respiratory Function Treated for Spasticity with OnabotulinumtoxinA
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 661; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100661 - 19 Oct 2020
Viewed by 937
Abstract
Two randomized, placebo-controlled studies evaluated the pulmonary function safety of onabotulinumtoxinA (onabotA) for treatment of upper and/or lower limb spasticity. Patients with stable baseline respiratory status received one or two treatments with placebo, 240 U, or 360 U of onabotA. Pulmonary function tests, [...] Read more.
Two randomized, placebo-controlled studies evaluated the pulmonary function safety of onabotulinumtoxinA (onabotA) for treatment of upper and/or lower limb spasticity. Patients with stable baseline respiratory status received one or two treatments with placebo, 240 U, or 360 U of onabotA. Pulmonary function tests, adverse events, and efficacy were measured at least every 6 weeks for 18 weeks (Study 1) or 30 weeks (Study 2). Study 1 enrolled 109 patients (n = 36–37/group) and Study 2 enrolled 155 patients (n = 48–54/group). Mean baseline forced vital capacity (FVC) was 76–78% of predicted per group in Study 1 and 71% of predicted per group in Study 2. In Study 1, change from baseline FVC values were significantly (p < 0.05) decreased vs. placebo at weeks 3 (240 U −57 mL vs. placebo +110 mL) and 12 (360 U −6 mL vs. +167 mL placebo). In Study 2, change from baseline FVC values were significantly decreased in the 360 U group vs. placebo at weeks 6 (−78 mL vs. +49 mL placebo), 13 (−60 mL vs. +119 mL placebo), 18 (−128 mL vs. +80 mL placebo), and 24 (−82 mL vs. +149 mL placebo). Individual pulmonary function-related adverse events were not correlated with PFT decreases. The most frequent pulmonary-related adverse events were nasopharyngitis (Study 1) and upper respiratory tract infection (Study 2). Ashworth scores were significantly improved at multiple time points in both studies. Injection of onabotA for spasticity in patients with decreased pulmonary function, at single and repeated doses of up to 360 U, was associated with small but statistically significant decreases in FVC or forced expiratory volume 1 s (FEV1) (>12% and 200 mL) that were subclinical and not correlated with any adverse clinical pulmonary events. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Bacterial Toxins)
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Article
Calcination Improves the In Vivo Efficacy of a Montmorillonite Clay to Bind Aflatoxin G1 in Broiler Chickens: A Toxicokinetic Approach
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 660; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100660 - 18 Oct 2020
Viewed by 1211
Abstract
The goal of this study was to investigate the toxicokinetic characteristics of aflatoxin G1 (AFG1) in broiler chickens and the effect of calcination of a Tunisian montmorillonite clay on the in vivo absorption of AFG1. In this study, broiler chickens were randomly distributed [...] Read more.
The goal of this study was to investigate the toxicokinetic characteristics of aflatoxin G1 (AFG1) in broiler chickens and the effect of calcination of a Tunisian montmorillonite clay on the in vivo absorption of AFG1. In this study, broiler chickens were randomly distributed into four groups of 10 animals. Group 1 was administered AFG1 (2 mg/kg body weight (BW)) by single intravenous injection (IV), group 2 received an intra-crop bolus (PO) of AFG1 without any clay, group 3 was dosed AFG1 PO together with an oral bolus of purified clay (CP), and group 4 received AFG1 PO with an oral bolus of calcined clay. A significant difference in the area under the curve (AUC0-t) was observed for group 4 (6.78 ± 4.24 h*ng/mL) in comparison with group 2 (12.83 ± 4.19 h*ng/mL). A significant reduction of the oral bioavailability of AFG1 was observed for group 4 (7.61 ± 4.76%) compared with group 2 (14.40 ± 4.70%), while no significant effect was observed of CP. In this experiment, no phase I nor phase II metabolites of AFG1 were observed. These findings confirm that calcination of the purified montmorillonite clay enhances the adsorption of AFG1 in the gastrointestinal tract after oral administration, thereby reducing its bioavailability, thus reducing its toxic effects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxicological Effects of Mycotoxins)
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Article
Gradual and Discrete Ontogenetic Shifts in Rattlesnake Venom Composition and Assessment of Hormonal and Ecological Correlates
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 659; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100659 - 16 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1723
Abstract
Ontogenetic shifts in venom occur in many snakes but establishing their nature as gradual or discrete processes required additional study. We profiled shifts in venom expression from the neonate to adult sizes of two rattlesnake species, the eastern diamondback and the timber rattlesnake. [...] Read more.
Ontogenetic shifts in venom occur in many snakes but establishing their nature as gradual or discrete processes required additional study. We profiled shifts in venom expression from the neonate to adult sizes of two rattlesnake species, the eastern diamondback and the timber rattlesnake. We used serial sampling and venom chromatographic profiling to test if ontogenetic change occurs gradually or discretely. We found evidence for gradual shifts in overall venom composition in six of eight snakes, which sometimes spanned more than two years. Most chromatographic peaks shift gradually, but one quarter shift in a discrete fashion. Analysis of published diet data showed gradual shifts in overall diet composition across the range of body sizes attained by our eight study animals, while the shifts in abundance of different prey classes varied in form from gradual to discrete. Testosterone concentrations were correlated with the change in venom protein composition, but the relationship is not strong enough to suggest causation. Venom research employing simple juvenile versus adult size thresholds may be failing to account for continuous variation in venom composition lifespan. Our results imply that venom shifts represent adaptive matches to dietary shifts and highlight venom for studies of alternative gene regulatory mechanisms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Review
Immunotoxin Screening System: A Rapid and Direct Approach to Obtain Functional Antibodies with Internalization Capacities
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 658; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100658 - 15 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1570
Abstract
Toxins, while harmful and potentially lethal, have been engineered to develop potent therapeutics including cytotoxins and immunotoxins (ITs), which are modalities with highly selective targeting capabilities. Currently, three cytotoxins and IT are FDA-approved for treatment of multiple forms of hematological cancer, and additional [...] Read more.
Toxins, while harmful and potentially lethal, have been engineered to develop potent therapeutics including cytotoxins and immunotoxins (ITs), which are modalities with highly selective targeting capabilities. Currently, three cytotoxins and IT are FDA-approved for treatment of multiple forms of hematological cancer, and additional ITs are tested in the clinical trials or at the preclinical level. For next generation of ITs, as well as antibody-mediated drug delivery systems, specific targeting by monoclonal antibodies is critical to enhance efficacies and reduce side effects, and this methodological field remains open to discover potent therapeutic monoclonal antibodies. Here, we describe our application of engineered toxin termed a cell-based IT screening system. This unique screening strategy offers the following advantages: (1) identification of monoclonal antibodies that recognize cell-surface molecules, (2) selection of the antibodies that are internalized into the cells, (3) selection of the antibodies that induce cytotoxicity since they are linked with toxins, and (4) determination of state-specific activities of the antibodies by differential screening under multiple experimental conditions. Since the functional monoclonal antibodies with internalization capacities have been identified successfully, we have pursued their subsequent modifications beyond antibody drug conjugates, resulting in development of immunoliposomes. Collectively, this screening system by using engineered toxin is a versatile platform, which enables straight-forward and rapid selection for discovery of novel functional antibodies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Toxin and Immunotoxin Based Therapeutic Approaches)
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Article
Prevalence, Genotypic and Phenotypic Characterization and Antibiotic Resistance Profile of Clostridium perfringens Type A and D Isolated from Feces of Sheep (Ovis aries) and Goats (Capra hircus) in Punjab, Pakistan
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 657; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100657 - 14 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1110
Abstract
Clostridium perfringens poses a serious threat to small ruminants by causing moderate to severe enterotoxaemia. Due to its ability to produce a wide arsenal of toxins, it is ranked among the most prevalent and important pathogens in livestock. This study focused on the [...] Read more.
Clostridium perfringens poses a serious threat to small ruminants by causing moderate to severe enterotoxaemia. Due to its ability to produce a wide arsenal of toxins, it is ranked among the most prevalent and important pathogens in livestock. This study focused on the molecular characterization of different Clostridium perfringens types along with their antimicrobial resistance profile. An overall higher prevalence of C. perfringens (46.1%) was detected based on mPCR among sheep and goats (healthy and diseased) in the Punjab province, Pakistan. The majority of the isolates were characterized as type A (82%), followed by type D (18%). Among the isolates from diseased sheep and goats, 27% were positive for cpa, 49% for cpa and cpb2, 9% for cpa and etx, 15% for cpa, cpb2 and etx. In the case of isolates from healthy sheep and goats, 59% were positive for cpa, 34% for cpb2 and cpa, 4% for cpa and etx, and 3% for cpa, cpb2 and etx. The prevalence of the beta2 toxin gene in the diseased sheep and goat population was 64% as compared to 37% in healthy animals. All 184 isolates (100%) were sensitive to rifampin and ceftiofur; the majority (57%) was sensitive to teicoplanin, chloramphenicol, amoxicillin, linezolid and enrofloxacin. A lower proportion of isolates (43%) were sensitive to ciprofloxacin and only 14% were susceptible to erythromycin. The findings of this study highlight the higher prevalence of C. perfringens in small ruminants and indicate that detailed pathogenesis studies are necessary to understand the explicit role of various toxins in causing enteric infections in sheep and goats including how they might be exploited to develop vaccines against these diseases. Full article
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Article
Phenotypic Differentiation of Two Morphologically Similar Aflatoxin-Producing Fungi from West Africa
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 656; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100656 - 13 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 752
Abstract
Aflatoxins (AF) are hepatocarcinogenic metabolites produced by several Aspergillus species. Crop infection by these species results in aflatoxin contamination of cereals, nuts, and spices. Etiology of aflatoxin contamination is complicated by mixed infections of multiple species with similar morphology and aflatoxin profiles. The [...] Read more.
Aflatoxins (AF) are hepatocarcinogenic metabolites produced by several Aspergillus species. Crop infection by these species results in aflatoxin contamination of cereals, nuts, and spices. Etiology of aflatoxin contamination is complicated by mixed infections of multiple species with similar morphology and aflatoxin profiles. The current study investigates variation in aflatoxin production between two morphologically similar species that co-exist in West Africa, A. aflatoxiformans and A. minisclerotigenes. Consistent distinctions in aflatoxin production during liquid fermentation were discovered between these species. The two species produced similar concentrations of AFB1 in defined media with either urea or ammonium as the sole nitrogen source. However, production of both AFB1 and AFG1 were inhibited (p < 0.001) for A. aflatoxiformans in a yeast extract medium with sucrose. Although production of AFG1 by both species was similar in urea, A. minisclerotigenes produced greater concentrations of AFG1 in ammonium (p = 0.039). Based on these differences, a reliable and convenient assay for differentiating the two species was designed. This assay will be useful for identifying specific etiologic agents of aflatoxin contamination episodes in West Africa and other regions where the two species are sympatric, especially when phylogenetic analyses based on multiple gene segments are not practical. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Phytopathogenic Fungi and Toxicity)
Article
Research on the Mechanism of Action of a Citrinin and Anti-Citrinin Antibody Based on Mimotope X27
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 655; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100655 - 13 Oct 2020
Viewed by 767
Abstract
Immunoassays are developed based on antigen–antibody interactions. A mimotope is an effective recognition receptor used to study the mechanism of action of antigens and antibodies, and is used for improving the sensitivity of the antibody. In this study, we built a 3D structure [...] Read more.
Immunoassays are developed based on antigen–antibody interactions. A mimotope is an effective recognition receptor used to study the mechanism of action of antigens and antibodies, and is used for improving the sensitivity of the antibody. In this study, we built a 3D structure of the citrinin (CIT) mimotope X27 and anti-CIT single-chain antibody fragment (ScFv) through a “homologous modeling” strategy. Then, CIT and X27 were respectively docked to anti-CIT ScFv by using the “molecular docking” program. Finally, T28, F29, N30, R31, and Y32 were confirmed as the key binding sites in X27. Furthermore, the result of the phage-ELISA showed that the mutational phage lost the binding activity to the anti-CIT ScFv when the five amino acids were mutated to “alanine”, thereby proving the correctness of the molecular docking model. Lastly, a site-directed saturation strategy was adopted for the sites (T28, F29, N30, R31, and Y32). Eighteen different amino acids were introduced to each site on average. The activities of all mutants were identified by indirect competitive ELISA. The sensitivities of mutants T28F, T28I, F29I, F29V, N30T, and N30V were 1.83-, 1.37-, 1.70-, 2.96-, 1.31-, and 2.01-fold higher than that of the wild-type, respectively. In conclusion, the binding model between the CIT and antibody was elaborated for the first time based on the mimotope method, thereby presenting another strategy for improving the sensitivity of citrinin detection in immunoassays. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Foodborne Toxin Detection and Prevention Research)
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Article
Prevalent Human Gut Bacteria Hydrolyse and Metabolise Important Food-Derived Mycotoxins and Masked Mycotoxins
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 654; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100654 - 13 Oct 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1545
Abstract
Mycotoxins are important food contaminants that commonly co-occur with modified mycotoxins such as mycotoxin-glucosides in contaminated cereal grains. These masked mycotoxins are less toxic, but their breakdown and release of unconjugated mycotoxins has been shown by mixed gut microbiota of humans and animals. [...] Read more.
Mycotoxins are important food contaminants that commonly co-occur with modified mycotoxins such as mycotoxin-glucosides in contaminated cereal grains. These masked mycotoxins are less toxic, but their breakdown and release of unconjugated mycotoxins has been shown by mixed gut microbiota of humans and animals. The role of different bacteria in hydrolysing mycotoxin-glucosides is unknown, and this study therefore investigated fourteen strains of human gut bacteria for their ability to break down masked mycotoxins. Individual bacterial strains were incubated anaerobically with masked mycotoxins (deoxynivalenol-3-β-glucoside, DON-Glc; nivalenol-3-β-glucoside, NIV-Glc; HT-2-β-glucoside, HT-2-Glc; diacetoxyscirpenol-α-glucoside, DAS-Glc), or unconjugated mycotoxins (DON, NIV, HT-2, T-2, and DAS) for up to 48 h. Bacterial growth, hydrolysis of mycotoxin-glucosides and further metabolism of mycotoxins were assessed. We found no impact of any mycotoxin on bacterial growth. We have demonstrated that Butyrivibrio fibrisolvens, Roseburia intestinalis and Eubacterium rectale hydrolyse DON-Glc, HT-2 Glc, and NIV-Glc efficiently and have confirmed this activity in Bifidobacterium adolescentis and Lactiplantibacillus plantarum (DON-Glc only). Prevotella copri and B. fibrisolvens efficiently de-acetylated T-2 and DAS, but none of the bacteria were capable of de-epoxydation or hydrolysis of α-glucosides. In summary we have identified key bacteria involved in hydrolysing mycotoxin-glucosides and de-acetylating type A trichothecenes in the human gut. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Mutual Interaction between Mycotoxins and Gut Microbiome)
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Editorial
Freshwater Algal Toxins: Monitoring and Toxicity Profile
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 653; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100653 - 13 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 722
Abstract
Climate change and human activities are more and more affecting the dynamics of phytoplankton communities [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Freshwater Algal Toxins: Monitoring and Toxicity Profile)
Article
Water Thermodynamics of Peptide Toxin Binding Sites on Ion Channels
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 652; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100652 - 12 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1986
Abstract
Peptide toxins isolated from venomous creatures, long prized as research tools due to their innate potency for ion channels, are emerging as drugs as well. However, it remains challenging to understand why peptide toxins bind with high potency to ion channels, to identify [...] Read more.
Peptide toxins isolated from venomous creatures, long prized as research tools due to their innate potency for ion channels, are emerging as drugs as well. However, it remains challenging to understand why peptide toxins bind with high potency to ion channels, to identify residues that are key for activity, and to improve their affinities via mutagenesis. We use WaterMap, a molecular dynamics simulation-based method, to gain computational insight into these three questions by calculating the locations and thermodynamic properties of water molecules in the peptide toxin binding sites of five ion channels. These include an acid-sensing ion channel, voltage-gated potassium channel, sodium channel in activated and deactivated states, transient-receptor potential channel, and a nicotinic receptor whose structures were recently determined by crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). All channels had water sites in the peptide toxin binding site, and an average of 75% of these sites were stable (low-energy), and 25% were unstable (medium or high energy). For the sodium channel, more unstable water sites were present in the deactivated state structure than the activated. Additionally, for each channel, unstable water sites coincided with the positions of peptide toxin residues that previous mutagenesis experiments had shown were important for activity. Finally, for the sodium channel in the deactivated state, unstable water sites were present in the peptide toxin binding pocket but did not overlap with the peptide toxin, suggesting that future experimental efforts could focus on targeting these sites to optimize potency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Article
Effect of Folic Acid Supplementation and Dietary Protein Level on Growth Performance, Serum Chemistry and Immune Response in Weanling Piglets Fed Differing Concentrations of Aflatoxin
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 651; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100651 - 09 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 777
Abstract
Effects of folic acid and protein levels on growth and serum chemistry in pigs fed aflatoxin were determined in two experiments. Increasing aflatoxin (250 to 800 ppb) decreased (P < 0.05) weight gain and feed intake for both of the 35-day trials. [...] Read more.
Effects of folic acid and protein levels on growth and serum chemistry in pigs fed aflatoxin were determined in two experiments. Increasing aflatoxin (250 to 800 ppb) decreased (P < 0.05) weight gain and feed intake for both of the 35-day trials. In Experiment 1, increasing aflatoxin (0, 250, 500 ppb), increased linearly (P < 0.05) aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase (ALKP) and ɣ-glutamyl transferase (GGT). Folic acid (0, 2.0, 5.0, 12.5 ppm) increased linearly (P < 0.05) serum K, Ca, P, Mg, and AST with the largest effect observed at 12.5 ppm. Folic acid decreased (P < 0.05) blood urea nitrogen (BUN): creatinine and Na:K. In Experiment 2, aflatoxin (800 ppb) increased (P < 0.05) glucose and GGT, and decreased (P < 0.05) Na:K and albumin:globulin. Increasing protein from 15 to 18% elevated BUN: creatinine (P < 0.05), albumin: globulin (P < 0.05), albumin (P < 0.05) and ALKP (P < 0.05). Folic acid (2 ppm) elevated (P < 0.05) BUN, and interacted with both aflatoxin (P < 0.10) and protein (P < 0.05) on BUN. Adding folic acid to aflatoxin contaminated diets improved some measures of clinical chemistry in Experiment 1 but not traditional growth performance measures. The higher protein level reduced the effects of aflatoxicosis on growth. Full article
Article
Molecular Characterization of Clostridium perfringens Strains Isolated in Italy
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 650; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100650 - 08 Oct 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1295
Abstract
Clostridium (C.) perfringens is the causative agent of several diseases and enteric infections in animals and humans. The pathogenicity of the bacterium is largely mediated by the production of a wide range of toxins. Individual C. perfringens strains produce only subsets of this [...] Read more.
Clostridium (C.) perfringens is the causative agent of several diseases and enteric infections in animals and humans. The pathogenicity of the bacterium is largely mediated by the production of a wide range of toxins. Individual C. perfringens strains produce only subsets of this toxin repertoire, which permits the classification in seven toxinotypes (A–G). In addition, a variety of minor toxins further characterizes the single strains. The aim of this work was to evaluate, using Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) assays, the diversity of 632 C. perfringens strains isolated in Italy over 15 years. The genotyped strains were analyzed to determine the presence of major and minor toxins (cpe, consensus, and atypical cpb2), their geographical origins, and the source of isolation (animal species or food). Our study shows that toxinotype A had the greatest representation (93%) and correlated mainly with consensus cpb2 in a variety of animal species, as well as with atypical cpb2 in the five food samples. Type D, associated with cpe and atypical cpb2 minor toxins, was identified in 3% of the cases, and type F was identified in 2.5%. Seven type C isolates (1.1%) were detected in cattle, whereas the only type B atypical cpb2 isolated in Italy was detected in a goat, and one type E cpe+atypical cpb2 was detected in a sheep. Type G was not detected. Full article
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Article
Cross-Reactive Carbohydrate Determinant in Apis mellifera, Solenopsis invicta and Polybia paulista Venoms: Identification of Allergic Sensitization and Cross-Reactivity
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 649; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100649 - 08 Oct 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 788
Abstract
Allergic reactions to Hymenoptera venom, which could lead to systemic and even fatal symptoms, is characterized by hypersensitivity reactions mediated by specific IgE (sIgE) driven to venom allergens. Patients multisensitized to sIgE usually recognize more than one allergen in different Hymenoptera species. However, [...] Read more.
Allergic reactions to Hymenoptera venom, which could lead to systemic and even fatal symptoms, is characterized by hypersensitivity reactions mediated by specific IgE (sIgE) driven to venom allergens. Patients multisensitized to sIgE usually recognize more than one allergen in different Hymenoptera species. However, the presence of sIgE directed against Cross-Reactive Carbohydrate Determinant (CCD), which occurs in some allergens from Hymenoptera venom, hampers the identification of the culprit insects. CCD is also present in plants, pollen, fruits, but not in mammals. Bromelain (Brl) extracted from pineapples is a glycoprotein commonly used for reference to sIgE-CCD detection and analysis. In sera of fifty-one Hymenoptera allergic patients with specific IgE ≥ 1.0 KU/L, we assessed by immunoblotting the reactivity of sIgE to the major allergens of Apis mellifera, Polybia paulista and Solenopsis invicta venoms. We also distinguished, using sera adsorption procedures, the cases of CCD cross-reaction using Brl as a marker and inhibitor of CCD epitopes. The presence of reactivity for bromelain (24–28 kDa) was obtained in 43% of the patients, in which 64% presented reactivity for more than one Hymenoptera venom in radioallergosorbent (RAST) tests, and 90% showed reactivity in immunoblot analysis to the major allergens of Apis mellifera, Polybia paulista and Solenopsis invicta venoms. Sera adsorption procedures with Brl lead to a significant reduction in patients’ sera reactivity to the Hymenoptera allergens. Immunoblotting assay using pre- and post-Brl adsorption sera from wasp-allergic patients blotted with non-glycosylated recombinant antigens (rPoly p1, rPoly p5) from Polybia paulista wasp venom showed no change in reactivity pattern of sIgE that recognize allergen peptide epitopes. Our results, using Brl as a marker and CCD inhibitor to test sIgE reactivity, suggest that it could complement diagnostic methods and help to differentiate specific reactivity to allergens’ peptide epitopes from cross-reactivity caused by CCD, which is extremely useful in clinical practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Venoms)
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Review
Mycotoxins in Ethiopia: A Review on Prevalence, Economic and Health Impacts
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 648; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100648 - 08 Oct 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2003
Abstract
Mycotoxigenic fungi and their toxins are a global concern, causing huge economic and health impacts in developing countries such as Ethiopia, where the mycotoxin control system is inadequate. This work aimed to review the occurrences of agriculturally essential fungi such as Aspergillus, [...] Read more.
Mycotoxigenic fungi and their toxins are a global concern, causing huge economic and health impacts in developing countries such as Ethiopia, where the mycotoxin control system is inadequate. This work aimed to review the occurrences of agriculturally essential fungi such as Aspergillus, Fusarium, and Penicillium and their major mycotoxins in Ethiopian food/feedstuffs. The incidents of crucial toxins, including aflatoxins (B1, B2, G1, G2, M1), fumonisins (B1, B2), zearalenone, deoxynivalenol, and ochratoxin A, were studied. The impacts of chronic aflatoxin exposure on liver cancer risks, synergy with chronic hepatitis B infection, and possible links with Ethiopian childhood malnutrition were thoroughly examined. In addition, health risks of other potential mycotoxin exposure are also discussed, and the impacts of unsafe level of mycotoxin contaminations on economically essential export products and livestock productions were assessed. Feasible mycotoxin mitigation strategies such as biocontrol methods and binding agents (bentonite) were recommended because they are relatively cheap for low-income farmers and widely available in Ethiopia, respectively. Moreover, Ethiopian mycotoxin regulations, storage practice, adulteration practice, mycotoxin tests, and knowledge gaps among value chain actors were highlighted. Finally, sustained public awareness was suggested, along with technical and human capacity developments in the food control sector. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Mycotoxins)
Article
Rearrangement of N-Terminal α-Helices of Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1Ab Toxin Essential for Oligomer Assembly and Toxicity
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 647; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100647 - 08 Oct 2020
Viewed by 994
Abstract
Cry proteins produced by Bacillus thuringiensis are pore-forming toxins that disrupt the membrane integrity of insect midgut cells. The structure of such pore is unknown, but it has been shown that domain I is responsible for oligomerization, membrane insertion and pore formation activity. [...] Read more.
Cry proteins produced by Bacillus thuringiensis are pore-forming toxins that disrupt the membrane integrity of insect midgut cells. The structure of such pore is unknown, but it has been shown that domain I is responsible for oligomerization, membrane insertion and pore formation activity. Specifically, it was proposed that some N-terminal α-helices are lost, leading to conformational changes that trigger oligomerization. We designed a series of mutants to further analyze the molecular rearrangements at the N-terminal region of Cry1Ab toxin that lead to oligomer assembly. For this purpose, we introduced Cys residues at specific positions within α-helices of domain I for their specific labeling with extrinsic fluorophores to perform Föster resonance energy transfer analysis to fluorescent labeled Lys residues located in Domains II–III, or for disulfide bridges formation to restrict mobility of conformational changes. Our data support that helix α-1 of domain I is cleaved out and swings away from the toxin core upon binding with Manduca sexta brush border membrane vesicles. That movement of helix α-2b is also required for the conformational changes involved in oligomerization. These observations are consistent with a model proposing that helices α-2b and α-3 form an extended helix α-3 necessary for oligomer assembly of Cry toxins. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Pivotal Role of Toxins in Insects-Bacteria Interactions)
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Communication
Ankle and Foot Spasticity Patterns in Chronic Stroke Survivors with Abnormal Gait
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 646; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100646 - 07 Oct 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1472
Abstract
Chronic stroke survivors with spastic hemiplegia have various clinical presentations of ankle and foot muscle spasticity patterns. They are mechanical consequences of interactions between spasticity and weakness of surrounding muscles during walking. Four common ankle and foot spasticity patterns are described and discussed [...] Read more.
Chronic stroke survivors with spastic hemiplegia have various clinical presentations of ankle and foot muscle spasticity patterns. They are mechanical consequences of interactions between spasticity and weakness of surrounding muscles during walking. Four common ankle and foot spasticity patterns are described and discussed through sample cases. The patterns discussed are equinus, varus, equinovarus, and striatal toe deformities. Spasticity of the primary muscle(s) for each deformity is identified. However, it is emphasized that clinical presentation depends on the severity of spasticity and weakness of these muscles and their interactions. Careful and thorough clinical assessment of the ankle and foot deformities is needed to determine the primary cause of each deformity. An understanding of common ankle and foot spasticity patterns can help guide clinical assessment and selection of target spastic muscles for botulinum toxin injection or nerve block. Full article
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Article
Bacillus cereus Decreases NHE and CLO Exotoxin Synthesis to Maintain Appropriate Proteome Dynamics During Growth at Low Temperature
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 645; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100645 - 06 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 887
Abstract
Cellular proteomes and exoproteomes are dynamic, allowing pathogens to respond to environmental conditions to sustain growth and virulence. Bacillus cereus is an important food-borne pathogen causing intoxication via emetic toxin and/or multiple protein exotoxins. Here, we compared the dynamics of the cellular proteome [...] Read more.
Cellular proteomes and exoproteomes are dynamic, allowing pathogens to respond to environmental conditions to sustain growth and virulence. Bacillus cereus is an important food-borne pathogen causing intoxication via emetic toxin and/or multiple protein exotoxins. Here, we compared the dynamics of the cellular proteome and exoproteome of emetic B. cereus cells grown at low (16 °C) and high (30 °C) temperature. Tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS)-based shotgun proteomics analysis identified 2063 cellular proteins and 900 extracellular proteins. Hierarchical clustering following principal component analysis indicated that in B. cereus the abundance of a subset of these proteins—including cold-stress responders, and exotoxins non-hemolytic enterotoxin (NHE) and hemolysin I (cereolysin O (CLO))—decreased at low temperature, and that this subset governs the dynamics of the cellular proteome. NHE, and to a lesser extent CLO, also contributed significantly to exoproteome dynamics; with decreased abundances in the low-temperature exoproteome, especially in late growth stages. Our data therefore indicate that B. cereus may reduce its production of secreted protein toxins to maintain appropriate proteome dynamics, perhaps using catabolite repression to conserve energy for growth in cold-stress conditions, at the expense of virulence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advanced Proteomics as a Powerful Tool for Studying Bacterial Toxins)
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Article
Occurrence and Probabilistic Risk Assessment of Fumonisin B1, Fumonisin B2 and Deoxynivalenol in Nixtamalized Maize in Mexico City
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 644; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100644 - 06 Oct 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1264
Abstract
Fumonisins (FB1+FB2) and deoxynivalenol (DON) are mycotoxins produced by Fusarium species that might be present in maize and maize products. Knowledge on their occurrence in nixtamalized maize from Mexico together with an accompanying risk assessment are scarce, while nixtamalized maize is an important [...] Read more.
Fumonisins (FB1+FB2) and deoxynivalenol (DON) are mycotoxins produced by Fusarium species that might be present in maize and maize products. Knowledge on their occurrence in nixtamalized maize from Mexico together with an accompanying risk assessment are scarce, while nixtamalized maize is an important food in Mexico. This study presents the occurrence of FB1 + FB2 and DON in nixtamalized maize samples collected in Mexico City and analyses their distribution and resulting estimated daily intake for Mexican consumers by a probabilistic approach using a two-dimensional Monte-Carlo simulation. The results obtained reveal that for FB1 + FB2, 47% of the Mexican men and 30% of the Mexican women might exceed the provisional tolerable daily intake (PMTDI) of 2 µg/kg bw/day for fumonisins and for DON, 9% of men and 5% of women would be exceeding the PMTDI of 1 µg/kg bw/day, corresponding to the high consumers. The results raise a flag for risk managers in Mexico, to consider regulations and interventions that lower mycotoxin levels in nixtamalized maize for human consumption. Full article
(This article belongs to the Collection Fusarium Toxins – Relevance for Human and Animal Health)
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Article
Antidotal Potency of the Novel, Structurally Different Adsorbents in Rats Acutely Intoxicated with the T-2 Toxin
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 643; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100643 - 05 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 954
Abstract
In this paper, the potential antidote efficacy of commercially available formulations of various feed additives such as Minazel-Plus®, Mycosorb®, and Mycofix® was considered by recording their incidence on general health, body weight, and food and water intake, as [...] Read more.
In this paper, the potential antidote efficacy of commercially available formulations of various feed additives such as Minazel-Plus®, Mycosorb®, and Mycofix® was considered by recording their incidence on general health, body weight, and food and water intake, as well as through histopathology and semiquantitative analysis of gastric alterations in Wistar rats treated with the T-2 toxin in a single-dose regimen of 1.67 mg/kg p.o. (1 LD50) for 4 weeks. As an organic adsorbent, Mycosorb® successfully antagonized acute lethal incidence of the T-2 toxin (protective index (PI) = 2.25; p < 0.05 vs. T-2 toxin), and had adverse effects on body weight gain as well as food and water intake during the research (p < 0.001). However, the protective efficacy of the other two food additives was significantly lower (p < 0.05). Treatment with Mycosorb® significantly reduced the severity of gastric damage, which was not the case when the other two adsorbents were used. Our results suggest that Mycosorb® is a much better adsorbent for preventing the adverse impact of the T-2 toxin as well as its toxic metabolites compared with Minazel-plus® or Mycofix-plus®, and it almost completely suppresses its acute toxic effects and cytotoxic potential on the gastric epithelial, glandular, and vascular endothelial cells. Full article
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Article
Characterization of Two Novel Bacillus thuringiensis Cry8 Toxins Reveal Differential Specificity of Protoxins or Activated Toxins against Chrysomeloidea Coleopteran Superfamily
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 642; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100642 - 05 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 861
Abstract
Scarabaeoidea and Chrysomeloidea insects are agriculture-destructive coleopteran pests. Few effective Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) insecticidal proteins against these species have been described. Bt isolate BtSU4 was found to be active against coleopteran insects. Genome sequencing revealed two new cry8 genes in BtSU4, designated as [...] Read more.
Scarabaeoidea and Chrysomeloidea insects are agriculture-destructive coleopteran pests. Few effective Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) insecticidal proteins against these species have been described. Bt isolate BtSU4 was found to be active against coleopteran insects. Genome sequencing revealed two new cry8 genes in BtSU4, designated as cry8Ha1 and cry8Ia1. Both genes expressed a 135 kDa protoxin forming irregular shape crystals. Bioassays performed with Cry8Ha1 protoxin showed that it was toxic to both larvae and adult stages of Holotrichia parallela, also to Holotrichia oblita adults and to Anoplophora glabripennis larvae, but was not toxic to larval stages of H. oblita or Colaphellus bowringi. The Cry8Ia1 protoxin only showed toxicity against H. parallela larvae. After activation with chymotrypsin, the Cry8Ha1 activated toxin lost its insecticidal activity against H. oblita adults and reduced its activity on H. parallela adults, but gained toxicity against C. bowringi larvae, a Chrysomeloidea insect pest that feeds on crucifer crops. The chymotrypsin activated Cry8Ia1 toxin did not show toxicity to any one of these insects. These data show that Cry8Ha1 and Cry8Ia1 protoxin and activated toxin proteins have differential toxicity to diverse coleopteran species, and that protoxin is a more robust protein for the control of coleopteran insects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Pivotal Role of Toxins in Insects-Bacteria Interactions)
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Review
A Mini-Review on Detection Methods of Microcystins
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 641; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100641 - 04 Oct 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 1490
Abstract
Cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (CyanoHABs) produce microcystins (MCs) which are associated with animal and human hepatotoxicity. Over 270 variants of MC exist. MCs have been continually studied due of their toxic consequences. Monitoring water quality to assess the presence of MCs is of [...] Read more.
Cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms (CyanoHABs) produce microcystins (MCs) which are associated with animal and human hepatotoxicity. Over 270 variants of MC exist. MCs have been continually studied due of their toxic consequences. Monitoring water quality to assess the presence of MCs is of utmost importance although it is often difficult because CyanoHABs may generate multiple MC variants, and their low concentration in water. To effectively manage and control these toxins and prevent their health risks, sensitive, fast, and reliable methods capable of detecting MCs are required. This paper aims to review the three main analytical methods used to detect MCs ranging from biological (mouse bioassay), biochemical (protein phosphatase inhibition assay and enzyme linked immunosorbent assay), and chemical (high performance liquid chromatography, liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, high performance capillary electrophoresis, and gas chromatography), as well as the newly emerging biosensor methods. In addition, the current state of these methods regarding their novel development and usage, as well as merits and limitations are presented. Finally, this paper also provides recommendations and future research directions towards method application and improvement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cyanobacterial Toxins: Their Occurrence, Detection and Removal)
Article
High Titer Persistent Neutralizing Antibodies Induced by TSST-1 Variant Vaccine Against Toxic Shock Cytokine Storm
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 640; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100640 - 02 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 918
Abstract
Staphylococcal superantigen toxins lead to a devastating cytokine storm resulting in shock and multi-organ failure. We have previously assessed the safety and immunogenicity of a recombinant toxic shock syndrome toxin 1 variant vaccine (rTSST-1v) in clinical trials (NCT02971670 and NCT02340338). The current study [...] Read more.
Staphylococcal superantigen toxins lead to a devastating cytokine storm resulting in shock and multi-organ failure. We have previously assessed the safety and immunogenicity of a recombinant toxic shock syndrome toxin 1 variant vaccine (rTSST-1v) in clinical trials (NCT02971670 and NCT02340338). The current study assessed neutralizing antibody titers after repeated vaccination with escalating doses of rTSST-1v. At study entry, 23 out of 34 subjects (67.6%) had neutralizing antibody titers inhibiting T cell activation as determined by 3H-thymidine incorporation at a serum dilution of ≤1:100 with similar figures for inhibition of IL-2 activation (19 of 34 subjects, 55.9%) as assessed by quantitative PCR. After the first vaccination, numbers of subjects with neutralization titers inhibiting T cell activation (61.7% ≥ 1:1000) and inhibiting IL-2 gene induction (88.2% ≥ 1:1000) increased. The immune response was augmented after the second vaccination (inhibiting T cell activation: 78.8% ≥ 1:1000; inhibiting IL-2 induction: 93.9% ≥ 1:1000) corroborated with a third immunization months later in a small subgroup of subjects. Assessment of IFNγ, TNFα and IL-6 inhibition revealed similar results, whereas neutralization titers did not change in placebo participants. Antibody titer studies show that vaccination with rTSST-1v in subjects with no/low neutralizing antibodies can rapidly induce high titer neutralizing antibodies persisting over months. Full article
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Review
Toxic Potential of Traditionally Consumed Mushroom Species—A Controversial Continuum with Many Unanswered Questions
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 639; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100639 - 02 Oct 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1009
Abstract
Mushroom poisonings remain a significant cause of emergency medicine. While there are well-known species, such as Amanita phalloides, causing life-threatening poisonings, there is also accumulating evidence of poisonings related to species that have been considered edible and are traditionally consumed. In particular, [...] Read more.
Mushroom poisonings remain a significant cause of emergency medicine. While there are well-known species, such as Amanita phalloides, causing life-threatening poisonings, there is also accumulating evidence of poisonings related to species that have been considered edible and are traditionally consumed. In particular, the Tricholoma equestre group was reported to cause myotoxicity. In addition, particular wild mushrooms that are traditionally consumed especially in Asia and Eastern Europe have been subject to suspicion due to possible mutagenicity. Hitherto, the causative agents of these effects often remain to be determined, and toxicity studies have yielded contradictory results. Due to this, there is no consensus about the safety of these species. The issue is further complicated by difficulties in species identification and other possible sources of toxicity, such as microbiological contamination during storage, leading to sometimes opposite conclusions about the edibility of a species. This review focuses on existing data about these types of mushroom poisonings, including the still sparse knowledge about the causative chemical agents. In addition, the aim is to initiate a meta-discussion about the issue and to give some suggestions about how to approach the situation from the viewpoint of the collector, the researcher, and the practicing physician. Full article
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Article
Widespread Evolution of Molecular Resistance to Snake Venom α-Neurotoxins in Vertebrates
Toxins 2020, 12(10), 638; https://doi.org/10.3390/toxins12100638 - 02 Oct 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2802
Abstract
Venomous snakes are important subjects of study in evolution, ecology, and biomedicine. Many venomous snakes have alpha-neurotoxins (α-neurotoxins) in their venom. These toxins bind the alpha-1 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) at the neuromuscular junction, causing paralysis and asphyxia. Several venomous snakes and their [...] Read more.
Venomous snakes are important subjects of study in evolution, ecology, and biomedicine. Many venomous snakes have alpha-neurotoxins (α-neurotoxins) in their venom. These toxins bind the alpha-1 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) at the neuromuscular junction, causing paralysis and asphyxia. Several venomous snakes and their predators have evolved resistance to α-neurotoxins. The resistance is conferred by steric hindrance from N-glycosylated asparagines at amino acids 187 or 189, by an arginine at position 187 that has been hypothesized to either electrostatically repulse positively charged neurotoxins or sterically interfere with α-neurotoxin binding, or proline replacements at positions 194 or 197 of the nAChR ligand-binding domain to inhibit α-neurotoxin binding through structural changes in the receptor. Here, we analyzed this domain in 148 vertebrate species, and assessed its amino acid sequences for resistance-associated mutations. Of these sequences, 89 were sequenced de novo. We find widespread convergent evolution of the N-glycosylation form of resistance in several taxa including venomous snakes and their lizard prey, but not in the snake-eating birds studied. We also document new lineages with the arginine form of inhibition. Using an in vivo assay in four species, we provide further evidence that N-glycosylation mutations reduce the toxicity of cobra venom. The nAChR is of crucial importance for normal neuromuscular function and is highly conserved throughout the vertebrates as a result. Our research shows that the evolution of α-neurotoxins in snakes may well have prompted arms races and mutations to this ancient receptor across a wide range of sympatric vertebrates. These findings underscore the inter-connectedness of the biosphere and the ripple effects that one adaption can have across global ecosystems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Using Genomics to Understand Venom Evolution)
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