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Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 1999 Sep;77(9):679-88.

Retention of cleaved synaptosome-associated protein of 25 kDa (SNAP-25) in neuromuscular junctions: a new hypothesis to explain persistence of botulinum A poisoning.

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Department of Physiology, University of Toronto, ON, Canada.


Botulinum neurotoxins can block neurotransmitter release for several months. The molecular mechanism of these toxins' action is known, but the persistence of neuromuscular paralysis that they cause is unexplained. At frog neuromuscular junctions, application of botulinum toxin type A caused paralysis and reduced the C-terminus immunoreactivity of SNAP-25, but not that of the remaining N-terminus fragment. Botulinum toxin type C caused paralysis and reduced syntaxin immunoreactivity without affecting that of SNAP-25. Co-application of botulinum A and C reduced syntaxin immunoreactivity, and that of both C and N termini of SNAP-25. Application of hydroxylamine to de-palmitoylate SNAP-25 resulted in a slight reduction of the immunoreactivity of SNAP-25 N terminus, while it had no effect on immunoreactivity of botulinum A cleaved SNAP-25. In contrast, application of hydroxylamine to nerve terminals where syntaxin had been cleaved by botulinum C caused a considerable reduction in SNAP-25 N-terminus immunoreactivity. Hence the retention of immunoreactive SNAP-25 at the neuromuscular junction depends on its interactions with syntaxin and plasma membrane. Persistence of cleaved SNAP-25 in nerve terminals may prevent insertion of new SNAP-25 molecules, thereby contributing to the longevity of botulinum A effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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