Publications by authors named "Brigitte G Dorner"

48 Publications

Differentiation, Quantification and Identification of Abrin and Agglutinin.

Toxins (Basel) 2021 04 18;13(4). Epub 2021 Apr 18.

Biological Toxins, Centre for Biological Threats and Special Pathogens, Robert Koch Institute, Seestr. 10, 13353 Berlin, Germany.

Abrin, the toxic lectin from the rosary pea plant has gained considerable interest in the recent past due to its potential malevolent use. However, reliable and easy-to-use assays for the detection and discrimination of abrin from related plant proteins such as agglutinin or the homologous toxin ricin from are sparse. To address this gap, a panel of highly specific monoclonal antibodies was generated against abrin and the related agglutinin. These antibodies were used to establish two sandwich ELISAs to preferentially detect abrin or agglutinin (limit of detection 22 pg/mL for abrin; 35 pg/mL for agglutinin). Furthermore, an abrin-specific lateral flow assay was developed for rapid on-site detection (limit of detection ~1 ng/mL abrin). Assays were validated for complex food, environmental and clinical matrices illustrating broad applicability in different threat scenarios. Additionally, the antibodies turned out to be suitable for immuno-enrichment strategies in combination with mass spectrometry-based approaches for unambiguous identification. Finally, we were able to demonstrate for the first time how the developed assays can be applied to detect, identify and quantify abrin from a clinical sample derived from an attempted suicide case involving .
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/toxins13040284DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8073929PMC
April 2021

Innovative and Highly Sensitive Detection of Enterotoxin Based on Receptor Interaction and Monoclonal Antibodies.

Toxins (Basel) 2021 04 8;13(4). Epub 2021 Apr 8.

Biological Toxins, Centre for Biological Threats and Special Pathogens, Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Seestr. 10, 13353 Berlin, Germany.

enterotoxin (CPE) regularly causes food poisoning and antibiotic-associated diarrhea; therefore, reliable toxin detection is crucial. To this aim, we explored stationary and mobile strategies to detect CPE either exclusively by monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) or, alternatively, by toxin-enrichment via the cellular receptor of CPE, claudin-4, and mAb detection. Among the newly generated mAbs, we identified nine CPE-specific mAbs targeting five distinct epitopes, among them mAbs recognizing CPE bound to claudin-4 or neutralizing CPE activity in vitro. In surface plasmon resonance experiments, all mAbs and claudin-4 revealed excellent affinities towards CPE, ranging from 0.05 to 2.3 nM. Integrated into sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs), the most sensitive mAb/mAb and claudin-4/mAb combinations achieved similar detection limits of 0.3 pg/mL and 1.0 pg/mL, respectively, specifically detecting recombinant CPE from spiked feces and native CPE from 30 different culture supernatants. The implementation of mAb- and receptor-based ELISAs into a mobile detection platform enabled the fast detection of CPE, which will be helpful in clinical laboratories to diagnose diarrhea of assumed bacterial origin. In conclusion, we successfully employed an endogenous receptor and novel high affinity mAbs for highly sensitive and specific CPE-detection. These tools will be useful for both basic and applied research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/toxins13040266DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8068247PMC
April 2021

Ricin Antibodies' Neutralizing Capacity against Different Ricin Isoforms and Cultivars.

Toxins (Basel) 2021 01 29;13(2). Epub 2021 Jan 29.

Paris-Saclay University, CEA, INRAE, Medicines and Healthcare Technologies Department (DMTS), SPI, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France.

Ricin, a highly toxic protein from , is considered a potential biowarfare agent. Despite the many data available, no specific treatment has yet been approved. Due to their ability to provide immediate protection, antibodies (Abs) are an approach of choice. However, their high specificity might compromise their capacity to protect against the different ricin isoforms (D and E) found in the different cultivars. In previous work, we have shown the neutralizing potential of different Abs (43RCA-G1 (anti ricin A-chain) and RB34 and RB37 (anti ricin B-chain)) against ricin D. In this study, we evaluated their protective capacity against both ricin isoforms. We show that: (i) RB34 and RB37 recognize exclusively ricin D, whereas 43RCA-G1 recognizes both isoforms, (ii) their neutralizing capacity in vitro varies depending on the cultivar, and (iii) there is a synergistic effect when combining RB34 and 43RCA-G1. This effect is also demonstrated in vivo in a mouse model of intranasal intoxication with ricin D/E (1:1), where approximately 60% and 40% of mice treated 0 and 6 h after intoxication, respectively, are protected. Our results highlight the importance of evaluating the effectiveness of the Abs against different ricin isoforms to identify the treatment with the broadest spectrum neutralizing effect.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/toxins13020100DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7911099PMC
January 2021

Development and Evaluation of an Immuno-MALDI-TOF Mass Spectrometry Approach for Quantification of the Abrin Toxin in Complex Food Matrices.

Toxins (Basel) 2021 01 13;13(1). Epub 2021 Jan 13.

CEA, INRAE, Département Médicaments et Technologies pour la Santé (DMTS), Université Paris Saclay, SPI, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette, France.

The toxin abrin found in the seeds of has attracted much attention regarding criminal and terroristic misuse over the past decade. Progress in analytical methods for a rapid and unambiguous identification of low abrin concentrations in complex matrices is essential. Here, we report on the development and evaluation of a MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry approach for the fast, sensitive and robust abrin isolectin identification, differentiation and quantification in complex food matrices. The method combines immunoaffinity-enrichment with specific abrin antibodies, accelerated trypsin digestion and the subsequent MALDI-TOF analysis of abrin peptides using labeled peptides for quantification purposes. Following the optimization of the workflow, common and isoform-specific peptides were detected resulting in a ~38% sequence coverage of abrin when testing ng-amounts of the toxin. The lower limit of detection was established at 40 ng/mL in milk and apple juice. Isotope-labeled versions of abundant peptides with high ionization efficiency were added. The quantitative evaluation demonstrated an assay variability at or below 22% with a linear range up to 800 ng/mL. MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry allows for a simple and fast (<5 min) analysis of abrin peptides, without a time-consuming peptide chromatographic separation, thus constituting a relevant alternative to liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/toxins13010052DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7828309PMC
January 2021

Development of a multiplex microsphere immunoassay for the detection of antibodies against highly pathogenic viruses in human and animal serum samples.

PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2020 10 23;14(10):e0008699. Epub 2020 Oct 23.

Biosafety Level-4 Laboratory, Centre for Biological Threats and Special Pathogens, Robert Koch Institute, Berlin, Germany.

Surveillance of highly pathogenic viruses circulating in both human and animal populations is crucial to unveil endemic infections and potential zoonotic reservoirs. Monitoring the burden of disease by serological assay could be used as an early warning system for imminent outbreaks as an increased seroprevalance often precedes larger outbreaks. However, the multitude of highly pathogenic viruses necessitates the need to identify specific antibodies against several targets from both humans as well as from potential reservoir animals such as bats. In order to address this, we have developed a broadly reactive multiplex microsphere immunoassay (MMIA) for the detection of antibodies against several highly pathogenic viruses from both humans and animals. To this aim, nucleoproteins (NP) of Ebola virus (EBOV), Marburg virus (MARV) and nucleocapsid proteins (NP) of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever virus, Rift Valley fever virus and Dobrava-Belgrade hantavirus were employed in a 5-plex assay for IgG detection. After optimisation, specific binding to each respective NP was shown by testing sera from humans and non-human primates with known infection status. The usefulness of our assay for serosurveillance was shown by determining the immune response against the NP antigens in a panel of 129 human serum samples collected in Guinea between 2011 and 2012 in comparison to a panel of 88 sera from the German blood bank. We found good agreement between our MMIA and commercial or in-house reference methods by ELISA or IIFT with statistically significant higher binding to both EBOV NP and MARV NP coupled microspheres in the Guinea panel. Finally, the MMIA was successfully adapted to detect antibodies from bats that had been inoculated with EBOV- and MARV- virus-like particles, highlighting the versatility of this technique and potentially enabling the monitoring of wildlife as well as human populations with this assay. We were thus able to develop and validate a sensitive and broadly reactive high-throughput serological assay which could be used as a screening tool to detect antibodies against several highly pathogenic viruses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0008699DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7641473PMC
October 2020

Transferability study of the BINACLE (binding and cleavage) assay for in vitro determination of botulinum neurotoxin activity.

Biologicals 2020 Sep 29;67:81-87. Epub 2020 Jul 29.

Paul-Ehrlich-Institut (Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedicines), Paul-Ehrlich-Straße 51-59, 63225, Langen, Germany.

The muscle-relaxing effects of the botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) serotypes A and B are widely used in clinical and aesthetic medicine. The standard method for measuring the biological activity of pharmaceutical BoNT products is a mouse bioassay. In line with the European Directive 2010/63/EU, a replacement by an animal-free method would be desirable. Whereas the existing approved in vitro methods for BoNT activity measurements are product-specific and not freely available for all users, the "binding and cleavage" (BINACLE) assay could become a widely applicable alternative. This method quantifies active BoNT molecules based on their specific receptor-binding and proteolytic properties and can be applied to all BoNT products on the European market. Here we describe the results of a transferability study, in which identical BoNT samples were tested in the BINACLE assay in four laboratories. All participants successfully performed the method and observed clear dose-response relationships. Assay variability was within an acceptable range. These data indicate that the BoNT BINACLE assay is robust and can be straightforwardly transferred between laboratories. They thus provide an appropriate basis for future studies to further substantiate the suitability of the BINACLE assay for the potency determination of BoNT products.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biologicals.2020.06.007DOI Listing
September 2020

Functional detection of botulinum neurotoxin serotypes A to F by monoclonal neoepitope-specific antibodies and suspension array technology.

Sci Rep 2019 04 2;9(1):5531. Epub 2019 Apr 2.

Biological Toxins (ZBS 3), Centre for Biological Threats and Special Pathogens, Robert Koch Institute, Berlin, 13353, Germany.

Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) are the most potent toxins known and cause the life threatening disease botulism. Sensitive and broad detection is extremely challenging due to the toxins' high potency and molecular heterogeneity with several serotypes and more than 40 subtypes. The toxicity of BoNT is mediated by enzymatic cleavage of different synaptic proteins involved in neurotransmitter release at serotype-specific cleavage sites. Hence, active BoNTs can be monitored and distinguished in vitro by detecting their substrate cleavage products. In this work, we developed a comprehensive panel of monoclonal neoepitope antibodies (Neo-mAbs) highly specific for the newly generated N- and/or C-termini of the substrate cleavage products of BoNT serotypes A to F. The Neo-mAbs were implemented in a set of three enzymatic assays for the simultaneous detection of two BoNT serotypes each by monitoring substrate cleavage on colour-coded magnetic Luminex-beads. For the first time, all relevant serotypes could be detected in parallel by a routine in vitro activity assay in spiked serum and food samples yielding excellent detection limits in the range of the mouse bioassay or better (0.3-80 pg/mL). Therefore, this work represents a major step towards the replacement of the mouse bioassay for botulism diagnostics.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-41722-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6445094PMC
April 2019

Botulinum Neurotoxin F Subtypes Cleaving the VAMP-2 Q⁻K Peptide Bond Exhibit Unique Catalytic Properties and Substrate Specificities.

Toxins (Basel) 2018 08 1;10(8). Epub 2018 Aug 1.

Institute of Cell Biochemistry, OE 4310, Hannover Medical School, Carl-Neuberg-Straße 1, 30625 Hannover, Germany.

In the recent past, about 40 botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) subtypes belonging to serotypes A, B, E, and F pathogenic to humans were identified among hundreds of independent isolates. BoNTs are the etiological factors of botulism and represent potential bioweapons; however, they are also recognized pharmaceuticals for the efficient counteraction of hyperactive nerve terminals in a variety of human diseases. The detailed biochemical characterization of subtypes as the basis for development of suitable countermeasures and possible novel therapeutic applications is lagging behind the increase in new subtypes. Here, we report the primary structure of a ninth subtype of BoNT/F. Its amino-acid sequence diverges by at least 8.4% at the holotoxin and 13.4% at the enzymatic domain level from all other known BoNT/F subtypes. We found that BoNT/F9 shares the scissile Q/K bond in its substrate vesicle associated membrane protein 2 with the prototype BoNT/F1. Comparative biochemical analyses of four BoNT/F enzymatic domains showed that the catalytic efficiencies decrease in the order F1 > F7 > F9 > F6, and vary by up to a factor of eight. K values increase in the order F1 > F9 > F6 ≈ F7, whereas k decreases in the order F7 > F1 > F9 > F6. Comparative substrate scanning mutagenesis studies revealed a unique pattern of crucial substrate residues for each subtype. Based upon structural coordinates of F1 bound to an inhibitor polypeptide, the mutational analyses suggest different substrate interactions in the substrate binding channel of each subtype.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/toxins10080311DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6116196PMC
August 2018

Rapid Detection of Abrin Toxin and Its Isoforms in Complex Matrices by Immuno-Extraction and Quantitative High Resolution Targeted Mass Spectrometry.

Anal Chem 2017 11 20;89(21):11719-11727. Epub 2017 Oct 20.

Service de Pharmacologie et Immunoanalyse (SPI), Laboratoire d'Etude du Métabolisme des Médicaments, CEA, INRA, Université Paris Saclay , F-91191 Gif-sur-Yvette cedex, France.

Abrin expressed by the tropical plant Abrus precatorius is highly dangerous with an estimated human lethal dose of 0.1-1 μg/kg body weight. Due to the potential misuse as a biothreat agent, abrin is in the focus of surveillance. Fast and reliable methods are therefore of great importance for early identification. Here, we have developed an innovative and rapid multiepitope immuno-mass spectrometry workflow which is capable of unambiguously differentiating abrin and its isoforms in complex matrices. Toxin-containing samples were incubated with magnetic beads coated with multiple abrin-specific antibodies, thereby concentrating and extracting all the isoforms. Using an ultrasonic bath for digestion enhancement, on-bead trypsin digestion was optimized to obtain efficient and reproducible peptide recovery in only 30 min. Improvements made to the workflow reduced total analysis time to less than 3 h. A large panel of common and isoform-specific peptides was monitored by multiplex LC-MS/MS through the parallel reaction monitoring mode on a quadrupole-Orbitrap high resolution mass spectrometer. Additionally, absolute quantification was accomplished by isotope dilution with labeled AQUA peptides. The newly established method was demonstrated as being sensitive and reproducible with quantification limits in the low ng/mL range in various food and clinical matrices for the isoforms of abrin and also the closely related, less toxic Abrus precatorius agglutinin. This method allows for the first time the rapid detection, differentiation, and simultaneous quantification of abrin and its isoforms by mass spectrometry.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.analchem.7b03189DOI Listing
November 2017

Reoccurrence of botulinum neurotoxin subtype A3 inducing food-borne botulism, Slovakia, 2015.

Euro Surveill 2017 Aug;22(32)

Robert Koch Institute, Consultant laboratory for neurotoxin-producing clostridia (botulism, tetanus), Berlin, Germany.

A case of food-borne botulism occurred in Slovakia in 2015. Clostridium botulinum type A was isolated from three nearly empty commercial hummus tubes. The product, which was sold in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, was withdrawn from the market and a warning was issued immediately through the European Commission's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF). Further investigation revealed the presence of botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) subtype BoNT/A3, a very rare subtype implicated in only one previous outbreak (Loch Maree in Scotland, 1922). It is the most divergent subtype of BoNT/A with 15.4% difference at the amino acid level compared with the prototype BoNT/A1. This makes it more prone to evading immunological and PCR-based detection. It is recommended that testing laboratories are advised that this subtype has been associated with food-borne botulism for the second time since the first outbreak almost 100 years ago, and to validate their immunological or PCR-based methods against this divergent subtype.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2017.22.32.30591DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6373608PMC
August 2017

Highly sensitive sandwich immunoassay and immunochromatographic test for the detection of Clostridial epsilon toxin in complex matrices.

PLoS One 2017 11;12(7):e0181013. Epub 2017 Jul 11.

Service de Pharmacologie et Immunoanalyse (SPI), CEA, INRA, Université Paris-Saclay, Gif-sur-Yvette, France.

Epsilon toxin is one of the four major toxins of Clostridium perfringens. It is the third most potent clostridial toxin after botulinum and tetanus toxins and is thus considered as a potential biological weapon classified as category B by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the case of a bioterrorist attack, there will be a need for a rapid, sensitive and specific detection method to monitor food and water contamination by this toxin, and for a simple human diagnostic test. We have produced and characterized five monoclonal antibodies against common epitopes of epsilon toxin and prototoxin. Three of them neutralize the cytotoxic effects of epsilon toxin in vitro. With these antibodies, we have developed highly sensitive tests, overnight and 4-h sandwich enzyme immunoassays and an immunochromatographic test performed in 20 min, reaching detection limits of at least 5 pg/mL (0.15 pM), 30 pg/mL (0.9 pM) and 100 pg/mL (3.5 pM) in buffer, respectively. These tests were also evaluated for detection of epsilon toxin in different matrices: milk and tap water for biological threat detection, serum, stool and intestinal content for human or veterinary diagnostic purposes. Detection limits in these complex matrices were at least 5-fold better than those described in the literature (around 1 to 5 ng/mL), reaching 10 to 300 pg/mL using the enzyme immunoassay and 100 to 2000 pg/mL using the immunochromatographic test.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0181013PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5507444PMC
September 2017

Historical Perspectives and Guidelines for Botulinum Neurotoxin Subtype Nomenclature.

Toxins (Basel) 2017 01 18;9(1). Epub 2017 Jan 18.

Institute of Food Research, Norwich NR4 7UA, UK.

Botulinum neurotoxins are diverse proteins. They are currently represented by at least seven serotypes and more than 40 subtypes. New clostridial strains that produce novel neurotoxin variants are being identified with increasing frequency, which presents challenges when organizing the nomenclature surrounding these neurotoxins. Worldwide, researchers are faced with the possibility that toxins having identical sequences may be given different designations or novel toxins having unique sequences may be given the same designations on publication. In order to minimize these problems, an ad hoc committee consisting of over 20 researchers in the field of botulinum neurotoxin research was convened to discuss the clarification of the issues involved in botulinum neurotoxin nomenclature. This publication presents a historical overview of the issues and provides guidelines for botulinum neurotoxin subtype nomenclature in the future.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/toxins9010038DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5308270PMC
January 2017

Rapid and sensitive point-of-care detection of Orthopoxviruses by ABICAP immunofiltration.

Virol J 2016 12 9;13(1):207. Epub 2016 Dec 9.

Centre for Biological Threats and Special Pathogens (ZBS), Robert Koch Institute, Seestrasse 10, 13353, Berlin, Germany.

Background: The rapid and reliable detection of infectious agents is one of the most challenging tasks in scenarios lacking well-equipped laboratory infrastructure, like diagnostics in rural areas of developing countries. Commercially available point-of-care diagnostic tests for emerging and rare diseases are particularly scarce.

Results: In this work we present a point-of-care test for the detection of Orthopoxviruses (OPV). The OPV ABICAP assay detects down to 1 × 10 plaque forming units/mL of OPV particles within 45 min. It can be applied to clinical material like skin crusts and detects all zoonotic OPV infecting humans, including Vaccinia, Cowpox, Monkeypox, and most importantly Variola virus.

Conclusions: Given the high sensitivity and the ease of handling, the novel assay could be highly useful for on-site diagnostics of suspected Monkeypox virus infections in areas lacking proper laboratory infrastructure as well as rapid on-site testing of suspected bioterrorism samples.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12985-016-0665-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5148848PMC
December 2016

[On-site detection of bioterrorism-relevant agents : Rapid detection methods for viruses, bacteria and toxins - capabilities and limitations].

Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz 2016 Dec;59(12):1577-1586

Zentrum für Biologische Gefahren und Spezielle Pathogene (ZBS), Robert Koch-Institut, Seestraße 10, 13353, Berlin, Deutschland.

In Europe, besides the threat of terrorist attacks involving conventional methods such as explosive devices and automatic weapons, there is also a potential threat of terrorist groups using non-conventional material like biological agents in the scope of future attacks. Consequently, rapid and reliable detection systems for biological agents are being developed and tested continuously to inform crisis management. For environmental detection, a broad spectrum of different laboratory-based techniques has been developed for relevant biological agents. However for environmental samples, fast and reliable on-site detection methods are desired by first responders for rapid assessment.Based on different functional principles, generic, immunological and nucleic-acid-based on-site detection methods can be distinguished. Those should be facile, fast, sensitive, and specific. However, commercially available kits usually have limited sensitivity and often have not been validated independently. Furthermore in this context, the multitude of relevant biological agents that potentially have to be considered present in complex environmental matrices poses a serious challenge for reliable detection. Therefore, detailed knowledge of the specific scope of applications and the limitations of different analytical systems is necessary to evaluate the results obtained purposefully.The aim of this article is to provide an overview of the analytical principles, benefits and limitations of prevailing on-site environmental detection systems for bioterrorism-relevant viruses, bacteria and toxins. Despite promising developments the informative value of currently available on-site tests is still limited. Thus, expert laboratories have to conduct confirmatory testing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00103-016-2463-zDOI Listing
December 2016

Detection, differentiation, and identification of botulinum neurotoxin serotypes C, CD, D, and DC by highly specific immunoassays and mass spectrometry.

Analyst 2016 Sep 29;141(18):5281-97. Epub 2016 Jun 29.

Biological Toxins, Centre for Biological Threats and Special Pathogens, Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Berlin, Germany.

Botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) serotypes C and D and their mosaic variants CD and DC cause severe cases of botulism in animal husbandry and wildlife. Epidemiological data on the exact serotype or toxin variant causing outbreaks are rarely available, mainly because of their high sequence identity and the lack of fast and specific screening tools to detect and differentiate the four similar toxins. To fill this gap, we developed four highly specific sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) able to detect and differentiate botulinum neurotoxins type BoNT/C, D, CD, and DC based on four distinct combinations of specific monoclonal antibodies targeting both conserved and divergent subdomains of the four toxins. Here, highly sensitive detection with detection limits between 2 and 24 pg mL(-1) was achieved. The ELISAs were extensively validated and results were compared with data obtained by quantitative real-time PCR using a panel of Clostridium botulinum strains, real sample materials from veterinary botulism outbreaks, and non-BoNT-producing Clostridia. Additionally, in order to verify the results obtained by ELISA screening, the new monoclonal antibodies were used for BoNT enrichment and subsequent detection (i) on a functional level by endopeptidase mass spectrometry (Endopep-MS) assays and (ii) on a protein sequence level by LC-MS/MS spectrometry. Based on all technical information gathered in the validation study, the four differentiating ELISAs turned out to be highly reliable screening tools for the rapid analysis of veterinary botulism cases and should aid future field investigations of botulism outbreaks and the acquisition of epidemiological data.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c6an00693kDOI Listing
September 2016

Only the complex N559-glycan in the synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2C mediates high affinity binding to botulinum neurotoxin serotype A1.

Biochem J 2016 09 16;473(17):2645-54. Epub 2016 Jun 16.

Institut für Toxikologie, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1, 30625 Hannover, Germany

The extraordinary potency of botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) is mediated by their high neurospecificity, targeting peripheral cholinergic motoneurons leading to flaccid paralysis and successive respiratory failure. Complex polysialo gangliosides accumulate BoNTs on the plasma membrane and facilitate subsequent binding to synaptic vesicle membrane proteins which results in toxin endocytosis. The luminal domain 4 (LD4) of the three synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2 (SV2) isoforms A-C mediates uptake of the clinically most relevant serotype BoNT/A1. SV2C-LD4 exhibits the strongest protein-protein interaction and comprises five putative N-glycosylation sites (PNG sites). Here, we expressed human SV2C-LD4 fused to human IgG-Fc in prokaryotic and eukaryotic expression systems to analyse the effect of N-glycosylation of SV2C on the interaction with BoNT/A1. Mass spectrometric analysis of gSV2CLD-Fc demonstrates glycosylation of N534, N559 and N565, the latter two residing at the BoNT/A interface. Mutational analysis demonstrates that only the N559-glycan, but not N565-glycan increases affinity of BoNT/A for human gSV2C-LD4. The N559-glycan was characterised as a complex core-fucosylated type with a heterogeneity ranging up to tetra-antennary structure with bisecting N-acetylglucosamine which can establish extensive interactions with BoNT/A. The mutant gSV2CLD-Fc N559A displayed a 50-fold increased dissociation rate kd resulting in an overall 12-fold decreased binding affinity in surface plasmon resonance (SPR) experiments. The delayed dissociation might provide BoNT/A more time for endocytosis into synaptic vesicles. In conclusion, we show the importance of the complex N559-glycan of SV2C-LD4, adding a third anchor point beside a ganglioside and the SV2C-LD4 peptide, for BoNT/A neuronal cell surface binding and uptake.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1042/BCJ20160439DOI Listing
September 2016

Botulinum Neurotoxin Serotype A Recognizes Its Protein Receptor SV2 by a Different Mechanism than Botulinum Neurotoxin B Synaptotagmin.

Toxins (Basel) 2016 05 17;8(5). Epub 2016 May 17.

Institut für Toxikologie, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1, 30625 Hannover, Germany.

Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) exhibit extraordinary potency due to their exquisite neurospecificity, which is achieved by dual binding to complex polysialo-gangliosides and synaptic vesicle proteins. The luminal domain 4 (LD4) of the three synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2 isoforms, SV2A-C, identified as protein receptors for the most relevant serotype BoNT/A, binds within the 50 kDa cell binding domain HC of BoNT/A. Here, we deciphered the BoNT/A-SV2 interactions in more detail. In pull down assays, the binding of HCA to SV2-LD4 isoforms decreases from SV2C > SV2A > SV2B. A binding constant of 200 nM was determined for BoNT/A to rat SV2C-LD4 in GST pull down assay. A similar binding constant was determined by surface plasmon resonance for HCA to rat SV2C and to human SV2C, the latter being slightly lower due to the substitution L563F in LD4. At pH 5, as measured in acidic synaptic vesicles, the binding constant of HCA to hSV2C is increased more than 10-fold. Circular dichroism spectroscopy reveals that the quadrilateral helix of SV2C-LD4 already exists in solution prior to BoNT/A binding. Hence, the BoNT/A-SV2C interaction is of different nature compared to BoNT/B-Syt-II. In particular, the preexistence of the quadrilateral β-sheet helix of SV2 and its pH-dependent binding to BoNT/A via backbone-backbone interactions constitute major differences. Knowledge of the molecular details of BoNT/A-SV2 interactions drives the development of high affinity peptides to counteract BoNT/A intoxications or to capture functional BoNT/A variants in innovative detection systems for botulism diagnostic.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/toxins8050154DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4885069PMC
May 2016

Development of a Genus-Specific Antigen Capture ELISA for Orthopoxviruses - Target Selection and Optimized Screening.

PLoS One 2016 1;11(3):e0150110. Epub 2016 Mar 1.

Highly Pathogenic Viruses (ZBS 1), Centre for Biological Threats and Special Pathogens, Robert Koch Institute, Berlin, Germany.

Orthopoxvirus species like cowpox, vaccinia and monkeypox virus cause zoonotic infections in humans worldwide. Infections often occur in rural areas lacking proper diagnostic infrastructure as exemplified by monkeypox, which is endemic in Western and Central Africa. While PCR detection requires demanding equipment and is restricted to genome detection, the evidence of virus particles can complement or replace PCR. Therefore, an easily distributable and manageable antigen capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for the detection of orthopoxviruses was developed to facilitate particle detection. By comparing the virus particle binding properties of polyclonal antibodies developed against surface-exposed attachment or fusion proteins, the surface protein A27 was found to be a well-bound, highly immunogenic and exposed target for antibodies aiming at virus particle detection. Subsequently, eight monoclonal anti-A27 antibodies were generated and characterized by peptide epitope mapping and surface plasmon resonance measurements. All antibodies were found to bind with high affinity to two epitopes at the heparin binding site of A27, toward either the N- or C-terminal of the crucial KKEP-segment of A27. Two antibodies recognizing different epitopes were implemented in an antigen capture ELISA. Validation showed robust detection of virus particles from 11 different orthopoxvirus isolates pathogenic to humans, with the exception of MVA, which is apathogenic to humans. Most orthopoxviruses could be detected reliably for viral loads above 1 × 103 PFU/mL. To our knowledge, this is the first solely monoclonal and therefore reproducible antibody-based antigen capture ELISA able to detect all human pathogenic orthopoxviruses including monkeypox virus, except variola virus which was not included. Therefore, the newly developed antibody-based assay represents important progress towards feasible particle detection of this important genus of viruses.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0150110PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4773239PMC
July 2016

Generation and Characterization of Six Recombinant Botulinum Neurotoxins as Reference Material to Serve in an International Proficiency Test.

Toxins (Basel) 2015 Nov 26;7(12):5035-54. Epub 2015 Nov 26.

Toxogen GmbH, Feodor-Lynen-Str. 35, 30625 Hannover, Germany.

The detection and identification of botulinum neurotoxins (BoNT) is complex due to the existence of seven serotypes, derived mosaic toxins and more than 40 subtypes. Expert laboratories currently use different technical approaches to detect, identify and quantify BoNT, but due to the lack of (certified) reference materials, analytical results can hardly be compared. In this study, the six BoNT/A1-F1 prototypes were successfully produced by recombinant techniques, facilitating handling, as well as improving purity, yield, reproducibility and biosafety. All six BoNTs were quantitatively nicked into active di-chain toxins linked by a disulfide bridge. The materials were thoroughly characterized with respect to purity, identity, protein concentration, catalytic and biological activities. For BoNT/A₁, B₁ and E₁, serotypes pathogenic to humans, the catalytic activity and the precise protein concentration were determined by Endopep-mass spectrometry and validated amino acid analysis, respectively. In addition, BoNT/A₁, B₁, E₁ and F₁ were successfully detected by immunological assays, unambiguously identified by mass spectrometric-based methods, and their specific activities were assigned by the mouse LD50 bioassay. The potencies of all six BoNT/A1-F1 were quantified by the ex vivo mouse phrenic nerve hemidiaphragm assay, allowing a direct comparison. In conclusion, highly pure recombinant BoNT reference materials were produced, thoroughly characterized and employed as spiking material in a worldwide BoNT proficiency test organized by the EQuATox consortium.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/toxins7124861DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4690111PMC
November 2015

An International Proficiency Test to Detect, Identify and Quantify Ricin in Complex Matrices.

Toxins (Basel) 2015 Nov 26;7(12):4987-5010. Epub 2015 Nov 26.

Biological Toxins, Centre for Biological Threats and Special Pathogens, Robert Koch Institute, Seestrasse 10, 13353 Berlin, Germany.

While natural intoxications with seeds of Ricinus communis (R. communis) have long been known, the toxic protein ricin contained in the seeds is of major concern since it attracts attention of those intending criminal, terroristic and military misuse. In order to harmonize detection capabilities in expert laboratories, an international proficiency test was organized that aimed at identifying good analytical practices (qualitative measurements) and determining a consensus concentration on a highly pure ricin reference material (quantitative measurements). Sample materials included highly pure ricin as well as the related R. communis agglutinin (RCA120) spiked into buffer, milk and meat extract; additionally, an organic fertilizer naturally contaminated with R. communis shred was investigated in the proficiency test. The qualitative results showed that either a suitable combination of immunological, mass spectrometry (MS)-based and functional approaches or sophisticated MS-based approaches alone successfully allowed the detection and identification of ricin in all samples. In terms of quantification, it was possible to determine a consensus concentration of the highly pure ricin reference material. The results provide a basis for further steps in quality assurance and improve biopreparedness in expert laboratories worldwide.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/toxins7124859DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4690109PMC
November 2015

Recommended Immunological Assays to Screen for Ricin-Containing Samples.

Toxins (Basel) 2015 Nov 26;7(12):4967-86. Epub 2015 Nov 26.

Bacteriology & Enteric Diseases Division, National Microbiology Laboratory, Public Health Agency of Canada,Winnipeg, MB R3E 3R2, Canada.

Ricin, a toxin from the plant Ricinus communis, is one of the most toxic biological agents known. Due to its availability, toxicity, ease of production and absence of curative treatments, ricin has been classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as category B biological weapon and it is scheduled as a List 1 compound in the Chemical Weapons Convention. An international proficiency test (PT) was conducted to evaluate detection and quantification capabilities of 17 expert laboratories. In this exercise one goal was to analyse the laboratories' capacity to detect and differentiate ricin and the less toxic, but highly homologuous protein R. communis agglutinin (RCA120). Six analytical strategies are presented in this paper based on immunological assays (four immunoenzymatic assays and two immunochromatographic tests). Using these immunological methods "dangerous" samples containing ricin and/or RCA120 were successfully identified. Based on different antibodies used the detection and quantification of ricin and RCA120 was successful. The ricin PT highlighted the performance of different immunological approaches that are exemplarily recommended for highly sensitive and precise quantification of ricin.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/toxins7124858DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4690108PMC
November 2015

Qualitative and Quantitative Detection of Botulinum Neurotoxins from Complex Matrices: Results of the First International Proficiency Test.

Toxins (Basel) 2015 Nov 26;7(12):4935-66. Epub 2015 Nov 26.

Biological Toxins, Centre for Biological Threats and Special Pathogens, Robert Koch Institute, Seestrasse 10, 13353 Berlin, Germany.

In the framework of the EU project EQuATox, a first international proficiency test (PT) on the detection and quantification of botulinum neurotoxins (BoNT) was conducted. Sample materials included BoNT serotypes A, B and E spiked into buffer, milk, meat extract and serum. Different methods were applied by the participants combining different principles of detection, identification and quantification. Based on qualitative assays, 95% of all results reported were correct. Successful strategies for BoNT detection were based on a combination of complementary immunological, MS-based and functional methods or on suitable functional in vivo/in vitro approaches (mouse bioassay, hemidiaphragm assay and Endopep-MS assay). Quantification of BoNT/A, BoNT/B and BoNT/E was performed by 48% of participating laboratories. It turned out that precise quantification of BoNT was difficult, resulting in a substantial scatter of quantitative data. This was especially true for results obtained by the mouse bioassay which is currently considered as "gold standard" for BoNT detection. The results clearly demonstrate the urgent need for certified BoNT reference materials and the development of methods replacing animal testing. In this context, the BoNT PT provided the valuable information that both the Endopep-MS assay and the hemidiaphragm assay delivered quantitative results superior to the mouse bioassay.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/toxins7124857DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4690107PMC
November 2015

Characterization of Ricin and R. communis Agglutinin Reference Materials.

Toxins (Basel) 2015 Nov 26;7(12):4906-34. Epub 2015 Nov 26.

Biological Toxins, Centre for Biological Threats and Special Pathogens, Robert Koch Institute, Seestr. 10, 13353 Berlin, Germany.

Ricinus communis intoxications have been known for centuries and were attributed to the toxic protein ricin. Due to its toxicity, availability, ease of preparation, and the lack of medical countermeasures, ricin attracted interest as a potential biological warfare agent. While different technologies for ricin analysis have been established, hardly any universally agreed-upon "gold standards" are available. Expert laboratories currently use differently purified in-house materials, making any comparison of accuracy and sensitivity of different methods nearly impossible. Technically challenging is the discrimination of ricin from R. communis agglutinin (RCA120), a less toxic but highly homologous protein also contained in R. communis. Here, we established both highly pure ricin and RCA120 reference materials which were extensively characterized by gel electrophoresis, liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-ESI MS/MS), and matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight approaches as well as immunological and functional techniques. Purity reached >97% for ricin and >99% for RCA120. Different isoforms of ricin and RCA120 were identified unambiguously and distinguished by LC-ESI MS/MS. In terms of function, a real-time cytotoxicity assay showed that ricin is approximately 300-fold more toxic than RCA120. The highly pure ricin and RCA120 reference materials were used to conduct an international proficiency test.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/toxins7124856DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4690106PMC
November 2015

Simultaneous differentiation and quantification of ricin and agglutinin by an antibody-sandwich surface plasmon resonance sensor.

Biosens Bioelectron 2016 Apr 11;78:111-117. Epub 2015 Nov 11.

Biological Toxins (ZBS 3), Centre for Biological Threats and Special Pathogens, Robert Koch Institute, Berlin, Germany. Electronic address:

Ricin is one of the most toxic plant toxins known. Its accessibility and relative ease of preparation makes it a potential agent for criminal or bio-terrorist attacks. Detection of ricin from unknown samples requires differentiation of ricin from the highly homologous Ricinus communis agglutinin which is currently not feasible using immunological methods. Here we have developed a simple and sensitive surface plasmon resonance (SPR) sensing system for rapid differentiation between ricin and agglutinin done in real time. Both lectins were quantified in a sandwich immunoassay-like setting by capturing with a cross-reactive antibody (R109) binding to both proteins while differentiating by injection of a ricin-specific antibody (R18) in a subsequent enhancement step. The SPR-assay was reproducible and sensitive for different R. communis cultivars, showing no false positive results when other lectins were tested. Quantification and differentiation of both molecules was also demonstrated from a crude castor bean extract and complex matrices. For the first time, we have demonstrated how the closely related lectins can be discerned and quantified in a single assay based on immunological methods. This novel approach delivers crucial information regarding the composition, purity, concentration, and toxicity of suspicious samples containing ricin in less than 30 minutes. Furthermore, we show how enhancement injections during SPR-measurements can be used to determine the ratio of two related proteins independently of the actual protein concentration by comparing normalized enhancement response levels.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bios.2015.11.020DOI Listing
April 2016

Isolation and functional characterization of the novel Clostridium botulinum neurotoxin A8 subtype.

PLoS One 2015 6;10(2):e0116381. Epub 2015 Feb 6.

Biological Toxins (ZBS3), Centre for Biological Threats and Special Pathogens, Robert Koch-Institut, Berlin, Germany.

Botulism is a severe neurological disease caused by the complex family of botulinum neurotoxins (BoNT). Based on the different serotypes known today, a classification of serotype variants termed subtypes has been proposed according to sequence diversity and immunological properties. However, the relevance of BoNT subtypes is currently not well understood. Here we describe the isolation of a novel Clostridium botulinum strain from a food-borne botulism outbreak near Chemnitz, Germany. Comparison of its botulinum neurotoxin gene sequence with published sequences identified it to be a novel subtype within the BoNT/A serotype designated BoNT/A8. The neurotoxin gene is located within an ha-orfX+ cluster and showed highest homology to BoNT/A1, A2, A5, and A6. Unexpectedly, we found an arginine insertion located in the HC domain of the heavy chain, which is unique compared to all other BoNT/A subtypes known so far. Functional characterization revealed that the binding characteristics to its main neuronal protein receptor SV2C seemed unaffected, whereas binding to membrane-incorporated gangliosides was reduced in comparison to BoNT/A1. Moreover, we found significantly lower enzymatic activity of the natural, full-length neurotoxin and the recombinant light chain of BoNT/A8 compared to BoNT/A1 in different endopeptidase assays. Both reduced ganglioside binding and enzymatic activity may contribute to the considerably lower biological activity of BoNT/A8 as measured in a mouse phrenic nerve hemidiaphragm assay. Despite its reduced activity the novel BoNT/A8 subtype caused severe botulism in a 63-year-old male. To our knowledge, this is the first description and a comprehensive characterization of a novel BoNT/A subtype which combines genetic information on the neurotoxin gene cluster with an in-depth functional analysis using different technical approaches. Our results show that subtyping of BoNT is highly relevant and that understanding of the detailed toxin function might pave the way for the development of novel therapeutics and tailor-made antitoxins.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0116381PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4320087PMC
January 2016

Molecular gene profiling of Clostridium botulinum group III and its detection in naturally contaminated samples originating from various European countries.

Appl Environ Microbiol 2015 Apr 30;81(7):2495-505. Epub 2015 Jan 30.

Anses (French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety), Food Safety Laboratory, Maisons-Alfort, France

We report the development of real-time PCR assays for genotyping Clostridium botulinum group III targeting the newly defined C. novyi sensu lato group; the nontoxic nonhemagglutinin (NTNH)-encoding gene ntnh; the botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT)-encoding genes bont/C, bont/C/D, bont/D, and bont/D/C; and the flagellin (fliC) gene. The genetic diversity of fliC among C. botulinum group III strains resulted in the definition of five major subgroups named fliC-I to fliC-V. Investigation of fliC subtypes in 560 samples, with various European origins, showed that fliC-I was predominant and found exclusively in samples contaminated by C. botulinum type C/D, fliC-II was rarely detected, no sample was recorded as fliC-III or fliC-V, and only C. botulinum type D/C samples tested positive for fliC-IV. The lack of genetic diversity of the flagellin gene of C. botulinum type C/D would support a clonal spread of type C/D strains in different geographical areas. fliC-I to fliC-III are genetically related (87% to 92% sequence identity), whereas fliC-IV from C. botulinum type D/C is more genetically distant from the other fliC types (with only 50% sequence identity). These findings suggest fliC-I to fliC-III have evolved in a common environment and support a different genetic evolution for fliC-IV. A combination of the C. novyi sensu lato, ntnh, bont, and fliC PCR assays developed in this study allowed better characterization of C. botulinum group III and showed the group to be less genetically diverse than C. botulinum groups I and II, supporting a slow genetic evolution of the strains belonging to C. botulinum group III.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AEM.03915-14DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4357958PMC
April 2015

Infant botulism: is there an association with thiamine deficiency?

Pediatrics 2014 Nov 13;134(5):e1436-40. Epub 2014 Oct 13.

Center for Biological Threats and Special Pathogens-Biological Toxins (ZBS3), Robert Koch-Institute, Berlin, Germany.

Infant botulism is an acute life-threatening condition and diagnosis is frequently delayed. Therefore, the best time window to administer specific antibodies, at present the only etiology-based therapy, is often missed, entailing long periods of hospitalization in the PICU. Here we present a 3-month-old boy with infant botulism and respiratory failure, who quickly and favorably responded to thiamine supplementation. From the feces we isolated Clostridium botulinum serotype A2. In addition to producing botulinum neurotoxin A, this strain carried the thiaminase I gene and produced thiaminase I. Accordingly, the child's feces were positive for thiaminase I activity. Because C botulinum group I strains are capable of producing thiaminase I, we speculate that thiamine degradation might further aggravate the paralytic symptoms caused by botulinum neurotoxins in infant botulism. Thus, supportive supplementation with thiamine could be beneficial to speed up recovery and to shorten hospitalization in some patients with infant botulism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1542/peds.2013-3378DOI Listing
November 2014

Complexity of botulinum neurotoxins: challenges for detection technology.

Curr Top Microbiol Immunol 2013 ;364:219-55

Centre for Biological Security 3, Microbial Toxins, Robert Koch-Institut, Nordufer 20 13353 Berlin, Germany.

The detection of botulinum neurotoxins (BoNT) is extremely challenging due to their high toxicity and the multiple BoNT variants. To date, seven serotypes with more than 30 subtypes have been described, and even more subtypes are expected to be discovered. The fact that the BoNT molecules are released as large complexes of different size and composition adds further complexity to the issue. Currently, in the diagnostics of botulism, the mouse bioassay (MBA) is still considered as gold standard for the detection of BoNT in complex sample materials. Over the years, different functional, immunological, and spectrometric assays or combinations thereof have been developed, supplemented by DNA-based assays for the detection of the organism. In this review, advantages and limitations of the current technologies will be discussed, highlighting some of the intricacies of real sample analysis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-33570-9_11DOI Listing
April 2013

Stimulation of IgY responses in gene gun immunized laying hens by combined administration of vector DNA coding for the target antigen Botulinum toxin A1 and for avian cytokine adjuvants.

J Immunol Methods 2012 Aug 11;382(1-2):58-67. Epub 2012 May 11.

FU-Berlin, Fachbereich Biologie, Chemie, Pharmazie, Berlin, Germany.

DNA immunization is a convenient and effective way of inducing a specific antibody response. In mammals, co-administration of vectors encoding immunostimulatory cytokines can enhance the humoral response resulting in elevated antibody titers. We therefore set out to investigate the effect using avian interleukin 1β (IL-1β) and avian interleukin 6 (IL-6) as genetic adjuvants when immunizing laying hens. A BoNT A1 holotoxoid DNA immunogen carrying two inactivating mutations was evaluated for its ability to induce a specific and sustained IgY antibody response. Both the holotoxoid and the cytokine sequences were codon-optimized. In vitro, the proteins were efficiently expressed in transfected HEK 293T cells and the cytokines were secreted into the culture supernatants. Whereas eggs from hens immunized via gene gun using a prime boost strategy showed no differences in their total IgY content, the specific αBoNT A1 response was slightly elevated up to 1.4× by the IL-1β adjuvant vector and increased by 3.8× by the IL-6 vector. Finally, although hens receiving the IL-1β adjuvant had laying capacities above the average, hens receiving the IL-6 adjuvant experienced laying problems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jim.2012.05.005DOI Listing
August 2012