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Clostridium botulinum strain Af84 produces three enzymatically active neurotoxins: BoNT/A2, BoNT/F4, and BoNT/F5

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    Anal Chem
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    Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) are produced by various species of clostridia and are potent neurotoxins which cause the disease botulism, by cleaving proteins needed for successful nerve transmission. There are currently seven confirmed serotypes of BoNTs, labeled A-G, and toxin-producing clostridia typically only produce one serotype of BoNT. There are a few strains (bivalent strains) which are known to produce more than one serotype of BoNT, producing either both BoNT/A and /B, BoNT/A and /F, or BoNT/B and /F, designated as Ab, Ba, Af, or Bf. Recently, it was reported that Clostridium botulinum strain Af84 has three neurotoxin gene clusters: bont/A2, bont/F4, and bont/F5. This was the first report of a clostridial organism containing more than two neurotoxin gene clusters. Using a mass spectrometry based proteomics approach, we report here that all three neurotoxins, BoNT/A2, /F4, and /F5, are produced by C. botulinum Af84. Label free MS(E) quantification of the three toxins indicated that toxin composition is 88% BoNT/A2, 1% BoNT/F4, and 11% BoNT/F5. The enzymatic activity of all three neurotoxins was assessed by examining the enzymatic activity of the neurotoxins upon peptide substrates, which mimic the toxins' natural targets, and monitoring cleavage of the substrates by mass spectrometry. We determined that all three neurotoxins are enzymatically active. This is the first report of three enzymatically active neurotoxins produced in a single strain of Clostridium botulinum.
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