May 10, 2010
New Study Helps Explain How Botulism-causing Toxin Can Enter Circulation
New research in the Journal of Cell Biology helps explain how the toxic protein responsible for botulism can enter circulation from the digestive system. The study appears online May 10.
Botulism, a rare but serious paralytic illness, is caused by botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT), an extremely toxic protein that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. In food-borne botulism, the nontoxic components of BoNT"”including hemagglutinin (HA)"”protect the toxin from the low pH and enzymes encountered in the digestive tract. BoNT then passes through the intestinal epithelial barrier to enter circulation from the gut.
Interestingly, the research demonstrates a species-specific interaction between HA and E-cadherin. Although HA binds human, bovine, and mouse E-cadherin, for instance, it does not bind rat or chicken.
Sugawara, Y., et al. 2010. J. Cell Biol. doi:10.1083/jcb.200910119.
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