Botulinum neurotoxin A can be either the greatest wrinkle remover or one of the world’s most potent biological weapons. To perform either job, however, the toxin must first find a way to enter cells.
But understanding how the toxin — one of seven neurotoxins produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum — enters nerve cells has proved elusive for scientists. Despite a decade-long search for the receptor by labs around the world, researchers had come up empty handed.
Now, a research team led by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) researcher Edwin R. Chapman reports that it has identified the cellular receptor for botulinum neurotoxin A. The group’s work was published in the March 16, 2006, edition of ScienceXpress, which provides electronic publication of selected Science papers in advance of print. The finding offers important new insights that suggest how the toxin shuts down nerve cells with deadly efficiency.
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