New study helps explain how botulism-causing toxin can enter circulation

May 10, 2010

New research in the Journal of Cell Biology helps explain how the toxic protein responsible for botulism can enter circulation from the digestive system. The study appears online May 10.

Botulism, a rare but serious paralytic illness, is caused by botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT), an extremely toxic protein that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. In food-borne botulism, the nontoxic components of BoNT—including hemagglutinin (HA)—protect the from the low pH and enzymes encountered in the digestive tract. BoNT then passes through the intestinal epithelial barrier to enter circulation from the gut.

Although studies have examined how BoNT crosses the intestinal epithelial barrier, the mechanism by which it accomplishes this feat has remained a mystery. In this study, a team of Japanese researchers led by Yukako Fujinaga shows that HA plays a role. HA binds epithelial cadherin (E-cadherin), disrupting E-cadherin-mediated cell-to-cell adhesion and thereby disrupting the epithelial barrier.

Interestingly, the research demonstrates a species-specific interaction between HA and E-cadherin. Although HA binds human, bovine, and mouse E-cadherin, for instance, it does not bind rat or chicken.

Explore further: Atomic structure of key muscle component revealed

More information: Sugawara, Y., et al. 2010. J. Cell Biol. doi:10.1083/jcb.200910119

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Discovery of a mechanism that regulates cell movement

Jul 20, 2008

A study performed by researchers at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), in collaboration with researchers at the Instituto de Biología Molecular of the CSIC, reveal a mechanism that controls the movement ...

Recommended for you

Fighting bacteria—with viruses

8 hours ago

Research published today in PLOS Pathogens reveals how viruses called bacteriophages destroy the bacterium Clostridium difficile (C. diff), which is becoming a serious problem in hospitals and healthcare institutes, due to its re ...

Atomic structure of key muscle component revealed

9 hours ago

Actin is the most abundant protein in the body, and when you look more closely at its fundamental role in life, it's easy to see why. It is the basis of most movement in the body, and all cells and components ...

Brand new technology detects probiotic organisms in food

Jul 23, 2014

In the food industr, ity is very important to ensure the quality and safety of products consumed by the population to improve their properties and reduce foodborne illness. Therefore, a team of Mexican researchers ...

Protein evolution follows a modular principle

Jul 23, 2014

Proteins impart shape and stability to cells, drive metabolic processes and transmit signals. To perform these manifold tasks, they fold into complex three-dimensional shapes. Scientists at the Max Planck ...

Report on viruses looks beyond disease

Jul 22, 2014

In contrast to their negative reputation as disease causing agents, some viruses can perform crucial biological and evolutionary functions that help to shape the world we live in today, according to a new report by the American ...

User comments : 0