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1.  Analysis of the Mechanisms That Underlie Absorption of Botulinum Toxin by the Inhalation Route 
Infection and Immunity  2012;80(12):4133-4142.
Botulinum toxin is a highly potent oral and inhalation poison, which means that the toxin must have an efficient mechanism for penetration of epithelial barriers. To date, three models for toxin passage across epithelial barriers have been proposed: (i) the toxin itself undergoes binding and transcytosis; (ii) an auxiliary protein, HA35, transports toxin from the apical to the basal side of epithelial cells; and (iii) an auxiliary protein, HA35, acts on the basal side of epithelial cells to disrupt tight junctions, and this permits paracellular flux of toxin. These models were evaluated by studying toxin absorption following inhalation exposure in mice. Three types of experiments were conducted. In the first, the potency of pure neurotoxin was compared with that of progenitor toxin complex, which contains HA35. The results showed that the rate and extent of toxin absorption, as well as the potency of absorbed toxin, did not depend upon, nor were they enhanced by, the presence of HA35. In the second type of experiment, the potencies of pure neurotoxin and progenitor toxin complex were compared in the absence or presence of antibodies on the apical side of epithelial cells. Antibodies directed against the neurotoxin protected against challenge, but antibodies against HA35 did not. In the final type of experiment, the potency of pure neurotoxin and toxin complex was compared in animals pretreated to deliver antibodies to the basal side of epithelial cells. Once again, antibodies directed against the neurotoxin provided resistance to challenge, but antibodies directed against HA35 did not. Taken collectively, the data indicate that the toxin by itself is capable of crossing epithelial barriers. The data do not support any hypothesis in which HA35 is essential for toxin penetration of epithelial barriers.
PMCID: PMC3497405  PMID: 22966044
2.  Epitope Characterization of Sero-Specific Monoclonal Antibody to Clostridium botulinum Neurotoxin Type A 
Hybridoma  2011;30(6):503-510.
Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) are extremely potent toxins that can contaminate foods and are a public health concern. Anti-BoNT antibodies have been described that are capable of detecting BoNTs; however there still exists a need for accurate and sensitive detection capabilities for BoNTs. Herein, we describe the characterization of a panel of eight monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) generated to the non-toxic receptor-binding domain of BoNT/A (HC50/A) developed using a high-throughput screening approach. In two independent hybridoma fusions, two groups of four IgG MAbs were developed against recombinant HC50/A. Of these eight, only a single MAb, F90G5-3, bound to the whole BoNT/A protein and was characterized further. The F90G5-3 MAb slightly prolonged time to death in an in vivo mouse bioassay and was mapped by pepscan to a peptide epitope in the N-terminal subdomain of HC50/A (HCN25/A) comprising amino acid residues 985WTLQDTQEIKQRVVF999, an epitope that is highly immunoreactive in humans. Furthermore, we demonstrate that F90G5-3 binds BoNT/A with nanomolar efficiency. Together, our results indicate that F90G5-3 is of potential value as a diagnostic immunoreagent for BoNT/A capture assay development and bio-forensic analysis.
PMCID: PMC3278809  PMID: 22149274
3.  Immunization of mice with the non-toxic HC50 domain of botulinum neurotoxin presented by rabies virus particles induces a strong immune response affording protection against high-dose botulinum neurotoxin challenge 
Vaccine  2011;29(28):4638-4645.
We previously showed that rabies virus (RABV) virions are excellent vehicles for antigen presentation. Here, a reverse genetic approach was applied to generate recombinant RABV that express a chimeric protein composed of the heavy chain carboxyterminal half (HC50) of botulinum neurotoxin type A (BoNT/A) and RABV glycoprotein (G). To promote surface expression and incorporation of HC50/A into RABV virions, the RABV glycoprotein (G) ER translocation sequence, various fragments of RABV ectodomain (ED) and cytoplasmic domain were fused to HC50/A. The HC50/A chimeric proteins were expressed on the surface of cells infected with all of the recombinant RABVs, however, the highest level of surface expression was detected by utilizing 30 amino acids of the RABV G ED (HV50/A-E30). Our results also indicated that this chimeric protein was effectively incorporated into RABV virions. Immunization of mice with inactivated RABV-HC50/A-E30 virions induced a robust anti-HC50/A IgG antibody response that efficiently neutralized circulating BoNT/A in vivo, and protected mice against 1000 fold the lethal dose of BoNT/A.
PMCID: PMC3114282  PMID: 21549784
4.  Neutralization of Botulinum Neurotoxin by a Human Monoclonal Antibody Specific for the Catalytic Light Chain 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(8):e3023.
Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNT) are a family of category A select bioterror agents and the most potent biological toxins known. Cloned antibody therapeutics hold considerable promise as BoNT therapeutics, but the therapeutic utility of antibodies that bind the BoNT light chain domain (LC), a metalloprotease that functions in the cytosol of cholinergic neurons, has not been thoroughly explored.
Methods and Findings
We used an optimized hybridoma method to clone a fully human antibody specific for the LC of serotype A BoNT (BoNT/A). The 4LCA antibody demonstrated potent in vivo neutralization when administered alone and collaborated with an antibody specific for the HC. In Neuro-2a neuroblastoma cells, the 4LCA antibody prevented the cleavage of the BoNT/A proteolytic target, SNAP-25. Unlike an antibody specific for the HC, the 4LCA antibody did not block entry of BoNT/A into cultured cells. Instead, it was taken up into synaptic vesicles along with BoNT/A. The 4LCA antibody also directly inhibited BoNT/A catalytic activity in vitro.
An antibody specific for the BoNT/A LC can potently inhibit BoNT/A in vivo and in vitro, using mechanisms not previously associated with BoNT-neutralizing antibodies. Antibodies specific for BoNT LC may be valuable components of an antibody antidote for BoNT exposure.
PMCID: PMC2515629  PMID: 18714390
5.  Trivalent Vaccine against Botulinum Toxin Serotypes A, B, and E That Can Be Administered by the Mucosal Route▿  
Infection and Immunity  2007;75(6):3043-3054.
Most reports dealing with vaccines against botulinum toxin have focused on the injection route of administration. This is unfortunate, because a mucosal vaccine is likely to be more efficacious for patients and pose fewer risks to health care workers and to the environment. Therefore, efforts were made to generate a mucosal vaccine that provides protection against the botulinum serotypes that typically cause human illness (serotypes A, B, and E). This work demonstrated that carboxy-terminal peptides derived from each of the three serotypes were able to bind to and penetrate human epithelial barriers in vitro, and there was no cross inhibition of membrane binding and transcytosis. The three polypeptides were then tested in vivo as a trivalent vaccine that could be administered to mice by the intranasal route. The results indicated that the mucosal vaccine evoked high secretory titers of immunoglobulin A (IgA), as well as high circulating titers of IgG and IgA, and it also evoked a high level of resistance to challenge with toxin. The immunoglobulin responses and the levels of resistance to challenge were increased by coadministration of adjuvants, such as chitosan and vitamin E. At least three mechanisms were identified to account for the antibody-induced resistance: (i) blockade of toxin absorption across epithelial cells, (ii) enhanced clearance of toxin from the circulation, and (iii) blockade of toxin action at the neuromuscular junction. These results are a compelling demonstration that a mucosal vaccine against multiple serotypes of botulinum toxin has been identified.
PMCID: PMC1932861  PMID: 17371853

Results 1-5 (5)