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Immunobiology. 2011 Jun;216(6):698-706. doi: 10.1016/j.imbio.2010.10.010. Epub 2010 Nov 4.

Regions of recognition by blocking antibodies on the light chain of botulinum neurotoxin A: antigenic structure of the entire toxin.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


The continuous regions on botulinum neurotoxin A (BoNT/A) light (L) chain recognized by anti-toxin antibodies (Abs) from mouse, horse and chicken have been mapped. We synthesized a panel of thirty-two 19-residue peptides that overlapped consecutively by 5 residues and encompassed the entire L chain (residues 1-453). Mouse Abs recognized 5 major antigenic regions on the L chain, horse Abs recognized 9 while chicken Abs recognized 8 major antigenic regions. Overall, however, the three host species recognized, to some extent, similar, but not identical, peptides and the levels of Abs directed against a given region varied with the immunized host. Differences in the MHC of the host caused variation in levels of Ab recognition and some epitopes showed right or left frame-shifts among the species. Selected region(s) were also uniquely recognized by one species (e.g., peptide L1 by horse Abs). Mapping of the L chain antigenic regions and the previous localization of the regions on the H chain with the same antisera, has permitted description of the complete antigenic structure of BoNT/A. The locations in the 3-dimensional structure of the antigenic regions of the entire toxin are shown for mouse Abs. In the 3-D structure, the antigenic regions are on the surface of the toxin and when antibodies are bound the enzymatic activity of the light chain is obstructed.

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