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Mechanism of Botulinum Toxin

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Botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) is one of the most potent toxins that inhibit neurotransmitter release at the neuromuscular junction. The toxin is a microbial product synthesized by an anaerobic, gram-positive, spore-forming bacteria Clostridium botulinum whose natural habitat is soil. In addition to C. botulinum, unique strains of Clostridium baratii and Clostridium butyricum also have the capacity to produce BoNT. The basis of the phenomenal potency of BoNT is enzymatic. The toxin is a zinc-dependent protease that cleaves one or more of the fusion proteins by which neuronal vesicles release Ach (Acetylcholine) into the neuromuscular junction. This toxin acts preferentially on peripheral cholinergic nerve endings to block Ach release and is  both an agent that causes disease (i.e., botulism) as well as [...]


1.Identification of the major steps in botulinum toxin action.
Simpson LL
Annu Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 2004; 44:167-93.
2.Botulinum and tetanus neurotoxins: structure, function and therapeutic utility.
Turton K, Chaddock JA, Acharya KR.
Trends Biochem Sci. 2002 Nov; 27(11):552-8. Review.
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