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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.  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
Vaccine  2009;27(19):2616-2624.
The recombinant, catalytically active light chain of botulinum toxin type A was evaluated as a potential vaccine candidate. Previous studies have shown that the light chain can elicit protective immunity in vivo. [5], but the underlying basis for this observation was not determined. In the present study, antibodies directed against the light chain were shown to act at three different sites in the body to produce neutralization. Firstly, these antibodies acted to block toxin absorption into the body. This was demonstrated in vitro, in studies on binding and transport of toxin across epithelial monolayers, and in vivo, in studies on inhalation poisoning. Secondly, anti-light chain antibodies acted to promote clearance of toxin from the general circulation. This was demonstrated in vivo in studies on toxin levels in blood and in parallel studies on toxin accumulation in liver and spleen. Finally, anti-light chain antibodies acted to protect cholinergic nerves from botulinum toxin action. This was demonstrated in two types of in vitro assays: rate of paralysis of murine phrenic nerve-hemidiaphragm preparations and extent of binding to Neuro-2a cells. When taken together, these data show that anti-light chain antibodies can evoke three layers of protection against botulinum toxin.
PMCID: PMC2709450  PMID: 19428868
Botulinum toxin; Botulism vaccine; Neutralization

Results 1-3 (3)