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1.  Recombinant rabies virus particles presenting botulinum neurotoxin antigens elicit a protective humoral response in vivo 
Botulinum neurotoxins are one of the most potent toxins found in nature, with broad medical applications from cosmetics to the treatment of various neuropathies. Additionally, these toxins are classified as Category A-Tier 1 agents, with human lethal doses calculated at as little as 90 ng depending upon the route of administration. Of the eight distinct botulinum neurotoxin serotypes, the most common causes of human illness are from serotypes /A, /B, and /E. Protection can be achieved by eliciting antibody responses against the receptor-binding domain of the neurotoxin. Our previous research has shown that recombinant rabies virus–based particles can effectively present heterologous antigens. Here, we describe a novel strategy using recombinant rabies virus particles that elicits a durable humoral immune response against the botulinum neurotoxin receptor binding domains from serotypes /A, /B, and /E. Following intramuscular administration of β-propiolactone-inactivated rabies virus particles, mice elicited specific immune responses against the cognate antigen. Administration of a combination of these vectors also demonstrated antibody responses against all three serotypes based on enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) measurements, with minimal decay within the study timeline. Complete protection was achieved against toxin challenge from the serotypes /A and /B and partial protection for /E, indicating that a multivalent approach is feasible.
PMCID: PMC4362357  PMID: 26015984
2.  Detection of Myocardial Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury Using a Fluorescent Near-Infrared Zinc(II)-Dipicolylamine Probe and 99mTc Glucarate 
Molecular imaging  2012;11(3):187-196.
A fluorescent zinc 2,2′-dipicolylamine coordination complex PSVue®794 (probe 1) is known to selectively bind to phosphatidylserine exposed on the surface of apoptotic and necrotic cells. In this study, we investigated the cell death targeting properties of probe 1 in myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury. A rat heart model of ischemia-reperfusion was used. Probe 1, control dye, or 99mTc glucarate was intravenously injected in rats subjected to 30-minute and 5-minute myocardial ischemia followed by 2-hour reperfusion. At 90 minutes or 20 hours postinjection, myocardial uptake was evaluated ex vivo by fluorescence imaging and autoradiography. Hematoxylin-eosin and cleaved caspase-3 staining was performed on myocardial sections to demonstrate the presence of ischemiareperfusion injury and apoptosis. Selective accumulation of probe 1 could be detected in the area at risk up to 20 hours postinjection. Similar topography and extent of uptake of probe 1 and 99mTc glucarate were observed at 90 minutes postinjection. Histologic analysis demonstrated the presence of necrosis, but only a few apoptotic cells could be detected. Probe 1 selectively accumulates in myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury and is a promising cell death imaging tool.
PMCID: PMC3435486  PMID: 22554483
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

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