Faculty & Staff

  • Image of Eric A. Johnson

    Eric A. Johnson

    Professor of Bacteriology

    6303 Microbial Sciences Building
    Office: (608) 263-7944
    Lab: (608) 263-9263

Start and Promotion Dates

  • Assistant Professor: 1985
  • Associate Professor: 1990
  • Full Professor: 1996


B. S. 1976 University of California, Davis
M. S. 1978 University of California, Davis
Sc. D. 1983 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Postdoctoral Research: Harvard Medical School

Areas of Study

Clostridium botulinum and its toxins
food and industrial microbiology

Research Overview

Interspecies transfer of the gene coding for botulinum toxins.
Regulation of expression of botulinum toxins.
Purification, stabilization, and characterization of botulinum toxins.
Development of botulinum toxin as a pharmaceutical.
Behavior and control of Clostridium botulinum in foods.
Assessment of the safety of new food processing procedures, e.g., modified atmosphere packaging, on safety from botulism.
Characterization and application in foods of naturally occurring antimicrobials, including lactoperoxidase, lactoferrin, monoglycerides, polyacetylenes, lysozyme, and other lytic enzymes.
Behavior and control of Listeria monocytogenes in foods.
Control of pathogens in reduced fat cheeses.


Food Research Institute

Research Papers

  • Przedpelski A, Tepp WH, Zuverink M, Johnson EA, Pellet S, Barbieri JT (2018) Enhancing toxin-based vaccines against botulism. Vaccine : · Pubmed

    Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNT) are the most toxic proteins for humans. BoNTs are single chain proteins with an N-terminal light chain (LC) and a C-terminal heavy chain (HC). HC comprises a translocation domain (HC) and a receptor binding domain (HC). Currently, there are no approved vaccines against botulism. This study tests a recombinant, full-length BoNT/A1 versus LCHC/A1 and HC/A1 as vaccine candidates against botulism. Recombinant, full-length BoNT/A1 was detoxified by engineering 3-amino acid mutations (E224A/R363A/Y366F) (M-BoNT/A1) into the LC to eliminate catalytic activity, which reduced toxicity in a mouse model of botulism by >10-fold relative to native BoNT/A1. As a second step to improve vaccine safety, an additional mutation (W1266A) was engineered in the ganglioside binding pocket, resulting in reduced receptor binding, to produce M-BoNT/A1. M-BoNT/A1vaccination protected against challenge by 10LDUnits of native BoNT/A1, while M-BoNT/A1 or M-BoNT/A1vaccination equally protected against challenge by native BoNT/A2, a BoNT subtype. Mice vaccinated with M-BoNT/A1surviving BoNT challenge had dominant antibody responses to the LCHCdomain, but varied antibody responses to HC. Sera from mice vaccinated with M-BoNT/A1also neutralized BoNT/A1 action on cultured neuronal cells. The cell- and mouse-based assays measured different BoNT-neutralizing antibodies, where M-BoNT/A1elicited a strong neutralizing response in both assays. Overall, M-BoNT/A1, with defects in multiple toxin functions, elicits a potent immune response to BoNT/A challenge as a vaccine strategy against botulism and other toxin-mediated diseases.

  • Zhang S, Berntsson RP, Tepp WH, Tao L, Johnson EA, Stenmark P, Dong M (2017) Structural basis for the unique ganglioside and cell membrane recognition mechanism of botulinum neurotoxin DC. Nat Commun 8(1):1637 (PMC5696347) · Pubmed

    Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs), the most potent toxins known, are potential bioterrorism agents. It is well established that all seven serotypes of BoNTs (BoNT/A-G) require complex gangliosides as co-receptors. Here, we report that BoNT/DC, a presumed mosaic toxin between BoNT/D and BoNT/C1, binds and enters efficiently into neurons lacking complex gangliosides and shows no reduction in toxicity in mice deficient in complex gangliosides. The co-crystal structure of BoNT/DC with sialyl-Thomsen-Friedenreich antigen (Sialyl-T) suggests that BoNT/DC recognizes only the sialic acid, but not other moieties in gangliosides. Using liposome flotation assays, we demonstrate that an extended loop in BoNT/DC directly interacts with lipid membranes, and the co-occurring sialic acid binding and loop-membrane interactions mediate the recognition of gangliosides in membranes by BoNT/DC. These findings reveal a unique mechanism for cell membrane recognition and demonstrate that BoNT/DC can use a broad range of sialic acid-containing moieties as co-receptors.

  • Gustafsson R, Berntsson RP, Martínez-Carranza M, El Tekle G, Odegrip R, Johnson EA, Stenmark P (2017) Crystal structures of OrfX2 and P47 from a Botulinum neurotoxin OrfX-type gene cluster. FEBS Lett. 591(22):3781-3792 · Pubmed

    Botulinum neurotoxins are highly toxic substances and are all encoded together with one of two alternative gene clusters, the HA or the OrfX gene cluster. Very little is known about the function and structure of the proteins encoded in the OrfX gene cluster, which in addition to the toxin contains five proteins (OrfX1, OrfX2, OrfX3, P47, and NTNH). We here present the structures of OrfX2 and P47, solved to 2.1 and 1.8 Å, respectively. We show that they belong to the TULIP protein superfamily, which are often involved in lipid binding. OrfX1 and OrfX2 were both found to bind phosphatidylinositol lipids.

  • Ofstead CL, Heymann OL, Quick MR, Johnson EA, Eiland JE, Wetzler HP (2017) The effectiveness of sterilization for flexible ureteroscopes: A real-world study. Am J Infect Control 45(8):888-895 · Pubmed

    There are no guidelines or quality benchmarks specific to ureteroscope reprocessing, and patient injuries and infections have been linked to ureteroscopes. This prospective study evaluated ureteroscope reprocessing effectiveness. Reprocessing practices at 2 institutions were assessed. Microbial cultures, biochemical tests, and visual inspections were conducted on sterilized ureteroscopes. Researchers examined 16 ureteroscopes after manual cleaning and sterilization using hydrogen peroxide gas. Every ureteroscope had visible irregularities, such as discoloration, residual fluid, foamy white residue, scratches, or debris in channels. Tests detected contamination on 100% of ureteroscopes (microbial growth 13%, adenosine triphosphate 44%, hemoglobin 63%, and protein 100%). Contamination levels exceeded benchmarks for clean gastrointestinal endoscopes for hemoglobin (6%), adenosine triphosphate (6%), and protein (100%). A new, unused ureteroscope had hemoglobin and high protein levels after initial reprocessing, although no contamination was found before reprocessing. Flexible ureteroscope reprocessing methods were insufficient and may have introduced contamination. The clinical implications of residual contamination and viable microbes found on sterilized ureteroscopes are unknown. Additional research is needed to evaluate the prevalence of suboptimal ureteroscope reprocessing, identify sources of contamination, and determine clinical implications of urinary tract exposure to reprocessing chemicals, organic residue, and bioburden. These findings reinforce the need for frequent audits of reprocessing practices and the routine use of cleaning verification tests and visual inspection as recommended in reprocessing guidelines.

  • Fredrick CM, Lin G, Johnson EA (2017) Regulation of Botulinum Neurotoxin Synthesis and Toxin Complex Formation by Arginine and Glucose in Clostridium botulinum ATCC 3502. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 83(13): (PMC5479000) · Pubmed

    Botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT), produced by neurotoxigenic clostridia, is the most potent biological toxin known and the causative agent of the paralytic disease botulism. The nutritional, environmental, and genetic regulation of BoNT synthesis, activation, stability, and toxin complex (TC) formation is not well studied. Previous studies indicated that growth and BoNT formation were affected by arginine and glucose intypes A and B. In the present study,ATCC 3502 was grown in toxin production medium (TPM) with different levels of arginine and glucose and of three products of arginine metabolism, citrulline, proline, and ornithine. Cultures were analyzed for growth (optical density at 600 nm [OD]), spore formation, and BoNT and TC formation by Western blotting and immunoprecipitation and for BoNT activity by mouse bioassay. A high level of arginine (20 g/liter) repressed BoNT production approximately 1,000-fold, enhanced growth, slowed lysis, and reduced endospore production by greater than 1,000-fold. Similar effects on toxin production were seen with equivalent levels of citrulline but not ornithine or proline. In TPM lacking glucose, levels of formation of BoNT/A1 and TC were significantly decreased, and extracellular BoNT and TC proteins were partially inactivated after the first day of culture. An understanding of the regulation ofgrowth and BoNT and TC formation should be valuable in defining requirements for BoNT formation in foods and clinical samples, improving the quality of BoNT for pharmaceutical preparations, and elucidating the biological functions of BoNTs for the bacterium.Botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) is a major food safety and bioterrorism concern and is also an important pharmaceutical, and yet the regulation of its synthesis, activation, and stability in culture media, foods, and clinical samples is not well understood. This paper provides insights into the effects of critical nutrients on growth, lysis, spore formation, BoNT and TC production, and stability of BoNTs ofWe show that forATCC 3502 cultured in a complex medium, a high level of arginine repressed BoNT expression by ca. 1,000-fold and also strongly reduced sporulation. Arginine stimulated growth and compensated for a lack of glucose. BoNT and toxin complex proteins were partially inactivated in a complex medium lacking glucose. This work should aid in optimizing BoNT production for pharmaceutical uses, and furthermore, an understanding of the nutritional regulation of growth and BoNT formation may provide insights into growth and BoNT formation in foods and clinical samples and into the enigmatic function of BoNTs in nature.

  • Pellett S, Tepp WH, Bradshaw M, Kalb SR, Dykes JK, Lin G, Nawrocki EM, Pier CL, Barr JR, Maslanka SE, Johnson EA (2016) Purification and Characterization of Botulinum Neurotoxin FA from a Genetically Modified Clostridium botulinum Strain. mSphere 1(1): (PMC4863619) · Pubmed

    Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs), produced by neurotoxigenic clostridial species, are the cause of the severe disease botulism in humans and animals. Early research on BoNTs has led to their classification into seven serotypes (serotypes A to G) based upon the selective neutralization of their toxicity in mice by homologous antibodies. Recently, a report of a potential eighth serotype of BoNT, designated "type H," has been controversial. This novel BoNT was produced together with BoNT/B2 in a dual-toxin-producing Clostridium botulinum strain. The data used to designate this novel toxin as a new serotype were derived from culture supernatant containing both BoNT/B2 and novel toxin and from sequence information, although data from two independent laboratories indicated neutralization by antibodies raised against BoNT/A1, and classification as BoNT/FA was proposed. The sequence data indicate a chimeric structure consisting of a BoNT/A1 receptor binding domain, a BoNT/F5 light-chain domain, and a novel translocation domain most closely related to BoNT/F1. Here, we describe characterization of this toxin purified from the native strain in which expression of the second BoNT (BoNT/B) has been eliminated. Mass spectrometry analysis indicated that the toxin preparation contained only BoNT/FA and confirmed catalytic activity analogous to that of BoNT/F5. The in vivo mouse bioassay indicated a specific activity of this toxin of 3.8 × 10(7) mouse 50% lethal dose (mLD50) units/mg, whereas activity in cultured human neurons was very high (50% effective concentration [EC50] = 0.02 mLD50/well). Neutralization assays in cells and mice both indicated full neutralization by various antibodies raised against BoNT/A1, although at 16- to 20-fold-lower efficiency than for BoNT/A1. IMPORTANCE Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs), produced by anaerobic bacteria, are the cause of the potentially deadly, neuroparalytic disease botulism. BoNTs have been classified into seven serotypes, serotypes A to G, based upon their selective neutralization by homologous antiserum, which is relevant for clinical and diagnostic purposes. Even though supportive care dramatically reduces the death rate of botulism, the only pharmaceutical intervention to reduce symptom severity and recovery time is early administration of antitoxin (antiserum raised against BoNTs). A recent report of a novel BoNT serotype, serotype H, raised concern of a "treatment-resistant" and highly potent toxin. However, the toxin's chimeric structure and characteristics indicate a chimeric BoNT/FA. Here we describe the first characterization of this novel toxin in purified form. BoNT/FA was neutralized by available antitoxins, supporting classification as BoNT/FA. BoNT/FA required proteolytic activation to achieve full toxicity and had relatively low potency in mice compared to BoNT/A1 but surprisingly high activity in cultured neurons.

  • Preston JL, Royall AE, Randel MA, Sikkink KL, Phillips PC, Johnson EA (2016) High-specificity detection of rare alleles with Paired-End Low Error Sequencing (PELE-Seq). BMC Genomics 17:464 (PMC4908710) · Pubmed

    Polymorphic loci exist throughout the genomes of a population and provide the raw genetic material needed for a species to adapt to changes in the environment. The minor allele frequencies of rare Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) within a population have been difficult to track with Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS), due to the high error rate of standard methods such as Illumina sequencing. We have developed a wet-lab protocol and variant-calling method that identifies both sequencing and PCR errors, called Paired-End Low Error Sequencing (PELE-Seq). To test the specificity and sensitivity of the PELE-Seq method, we sequenced control E. coli DNA libraries containing known rare alleles present at frequencies ranging from 0.2-0.4 % of the total reads. PELE-Seq had higher specificity and sensitivity than standard libraries. We then used PELE-Seq to characterize rare alleles in a Caenorhabditis remanei nematode worm population before and after laboratory adaptation, and found that minor and rare alleles can undergo large changes in frequency during lab-adaptation. We have developed a method of rare allele detection that mitigates both sequencing and PCR errors, called PELE-Seq. PELE-Seq was evaluated using control E. coli populations and was then used to compare a wild C. remanei population to a lab-adapted population. The PELE-Seq method is ideal for investigating the dynamics of rare alleles in a broad range of reduced-representation sequencing methods, including targeted amplicon sequencing, RAD-Seq, ddRAD, and GBS. PELE-Seq is also well-suited for whole genome sequencing of mitochondria and viruses, and for high-throughput rare mutation screens.

  • Chen C, Przedpelski A, Tepp WH, Pellett S, Johnson EA, Barbieri JT (2015) Heat-Labile Enterotoxin IIa, a Platform To Deliver Heterologous Proteins into Neurons. MBio 6(4):e00734 (PMC4542185) · Pubmed

    Cholera toxin (CT) and the related heat-labile enterotoxins (LT) of Escherichia coli have been implicated as adjuvants in human therapies, but reactivity upon intranasal delivery dampened efforts to develop other clinical applications. However, each CT family member variant has unique biological properties that may warrant development as therapeutic platforms. In the current study, a nontoxic variant of the heat-labile enterotoxin IIa (LTIIa) was engineered to deliver heterologous, functional proteins into the cytosol of neurons. As proof of principle, the LTIIa variant delivered two cargos into neurons. LTIIa delivered β-lactamase efficiently into cells containing complex gangliosides, such as GD1b, as host receptors. LTIIa delivery of β-lactamase was sensitive to brefeldin A, an inhibitor that collapses the Golgi compartment into the endoplasmic reticulum, but not sensitive to treatment with botulinum neurotoxin D (BoNT/D), an inhibitor of synaptic vesicle cycling. LTIIa delivered a single-chain, anti-BoNT/A camelid antibody that inhibited SNAP25 cleavage during post-BoNT/A exposure of neurons. Delivery of functional, heterologous protein cargos into neurons demonstrates the potential of LTII variants as platforms to deliver therapies to inactivate toxins and microbial infections and to reverse the pathology of human neurodegenerative diseases. This study engineered a protein platform to deliver functional, heterologous proteins into neurons. The protein platform developed was a variant of the heat-labile enterotoxin IIa (LTIIa) which lacked the catalytic domain, yielding a nontoxic protein. As proof of principle, LTIIa variants delivered two functional proteins into neurons, β-lactamase and a camelid antibody. These studies show the utility of LTIIa variants to deliver therapies into neurons, which could be extended to inactivate toxins and microbial infections and potentially to reverse the progression of neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

  • Lan Chun C, Kahn CI, Borchert AJ, Byappanahalli MN, Whitman RL, Peller J, Pier C, Lin G, Johnson EA, Sadowsky MJ (2015) Prevalence of toxin-producing Clostridium botulinum associated with the macroalga Cladophora in three Great Lakes: growth and management. Sci. Total Environ. 511:523-9 · Pubmed

    The reemergence of avian botulism caused by Clostridium botulinum type E has been observed across the Great Lakes in recent years. Evidence suggests an association between the nuisance algae, Cladophora spp., and C. botulinum in nearshore areas of the Great Lakes. However, the nature of the association between Cladophora and C. botulinum is not fully understood due, in part, to the complex food web interactions in this disease etiology. In this study, we extensively evaluated their association by quantitatively examining population size and serotypes of C. botulinum in algal mats collected from wide geographic areas in lakes Michigan, Ontario, and Erie in 2011-2012 and comparing them with frequencies in other matrices such as sand and water. A high prevalence (96%) of C. botulinum type E was observed in Cladophora mats collected from shorelines of the Great Lakes in 2012. Among the algae samples containing detectable C. botulinum, the population size of C. Botulinum type E was 10(0)-10(4) MPN/g dried algae, which was much greater (up to 10(3) fold) than that found in sand or the water column, indicating that Cladophora mats are sources of this pathogen. Mouse toxinantitoxin bioassays confirmed that the putative C. botulinum belonged to the type E serotype. Steam treatment was effective in reducing or eliminating C. botulinum type E viable cells in Cladophora mats, thereby breaking the potential transmission route of toxin up to the food chain. Consequently, our data suggest that steam treatment incorporated with a beach cleaning machine may be an effective treatment of Cladophora-borne C. botulinum and may reduce bird mortality and human health risks.

  • Lin G, Tepp WH, Bradshaw M, Fredrick CM, Johnson EA (2015) Immunoprecipitation of native botulinum neurotoxin complexes from Clostridium botulinum subtype A strains. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 81(2):481-91 (PMC4277567) · Pubmed

    Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) naturally exist as components of protein complexes containing nontoxic proteins. The nontoxic proteins impart stability of BoNTs in the gastrointestinal tract and during purification and handling. The two primary neurotoxin complexes (TCs) are (i) TC1, consisting of BoNT, nontoxin-nonhemagglutinin (NTNH), and hemagglutinins (HAs), and (ii) TC2, consisting of BoNT and NTNH (and possibly OrfX proteins). In this study, BoNT/A subtypes A1, A2, A3, and A5 were examined for the compositions of their TCs in culture extracts using immunoprecipitation (IP). IP analyses showed that BoNT/A1 and BoNT/A5 form TC1s, while BoNT/A2 and BoNT/A3 form TC2s. A Clostridium botulinum host strain expressing recombinant BoNT/A4 (normally present as a TC2) from an extrachromosomal plasmid formed a TC1 with complexing proteins from the host strain, indicating that the HAs and NTNH encoded on the chromosome associated with the plasmid-encoded BoNT/A4. Strain NCTC 2916 (A1/silent B1), which carries both an ha silent bont/b cluster and an orfX bont/a1 cluster, was also examined. IP analysis revealed that NCTC 2916 formed only a TC2 containing BoNT/A1 and its associated NTNH. No association between BoNT/A1 and the nontoxic proteins from the silent bont/b cluster was detected, although the HAs were expressed as determined by Western blotting analysis. Additionally, NTNH and HAs from the silent bont/b cluster did not form a complex in NCTC 2916. The stabilities of the two types of TC differed at various pHs and with addition of KCl and NaCl. TC1 complexes were more stable than TC2 complexes. Mouse serum stabilized TC2, while TC1 was unaffected.

  • Bradshaw M, Tepp WH, Whitemarsh RC, Pellett S, Johnson EA (2014) Holotoxin Activity of Botulinum Neurotoxin Subtype A4 Originating from a Nontoxigenic Clostridium botulinum Expression System. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 80(23):7415-22 (PMC4249187) · Pubmed

    Clostridium botulinum subtype A4 neurotoxin (BoNT/A4) is naturally expressed in the dual-toxin-producing C. botulinum strain 657Ba at 100× lower titers than BoNT/B. In this study, we describe purification of recombinant BoNT/A4 (rBoNT/A4) expressed in a nonsporulating and nontoxigenic C. botulinum expression host strain. The rBoNT/A4 copurified with nontoxic toxin complex components provided in trans by the expression host and was proteolytically cleaved to the active dichain form. Activity of the recombinant BoNT/A4 in mice and in human neuronal cells was about 1,000-fold lower than that of BoNT/A1, and the recombinant BoNT/A4 was effectively neutralized by botulism heptavalent antitoxin. A previous report using recombinant truncated BoNT/A4 light chain (LC) expressed in Escherichia coli has indicated reduced stability and activity of BoNT/A4 LC compared to BoNT/A1 LC, which was surmounted by introduction of a single-amino-acid substitution, I264R. In order to determine whether this mutation would also affect the holotoxin activity of BoNT/A4, a recombinant full-length BoNT/A4 carrying this mutation as well as a second mutation predicted to increase solubility (L260F) was produced in the clostridial expression system. Comparative analyses of the in vitro, cellular, and in vivo activities of rBoNT/A4 and rBoNT/A4-L260F I264R showed 1,000-fold-lower activity than BoNT/A1 in both the mutated and nonmutated BoNT/A4. This indicates that these mutations do not alter the activity of BoNT/A4 holotoxin. In summary, a recombinant BoNT from a dual-toxin-producing strain was expressed and purified in an endogenous clostridial expression system, allowing analysis of this toxin.

  • Blum FC, Tepp WH, Johnson EA, Barbieri JT (2014) Multiple domains of tetanus toxin direct entry into primary neurons. Traffic 15(10):1057-65 (PMC4167930) · Pubmed

    Tetanus toxin elicits spastic paralysis by cleaving VAMP-2 to inhibit neurotransmitter release in inhibitory neurons of the central nervous system. As the retrograde transport of tetanus neurotoxin (TeNT) from endosomes has been described, the initial steps that define how TeNT initiates trafficking to the retrograde system are undefined. This study examines TeNT entry into primary cultured cortical neurons by total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy. The initial association of TeNT with the plasma membrane was dependent upon ganglioside binding, but segregated from synaptophysin1 (Syp1), a synaptic vesicle (SV) protein. TeNT entry was unaffected by membrane depolarization and independent of SV cycling, whereas entry of the receptor-binding domain of TeNT (HCR/T) was stimulated by membrane depolarization and inhibited by blocking SV cycling. Measurement of the incidence of colocalization showed that TeNT segregated from Syp1, whereas HCR/T colocalized with Syp1. These studies show that while the HCR defines the initial association of TeNT with the cell membrane, regions outside the HCR define how TeNT enters neurons independent of SV cycling. This provides a basis for the unique entry of botulinum toxin and tetanus toxin into neurons.

  • Johnson EA (2014) Validity of botulinum neurotoxin serotype H. J. Infect. Dis. 210(6):992-3; discussion 993 · Pubmed

    No abstract available.

  • Peng L, Adler M, Demogines A, Borrell A, Liu H, Tao L, Tepp WH, Zhang SC, Johnson EA, Sawyer SL, Dong M (2014) Widespread sequence variations in VAMP1 across vertebrates suggest a potential selective pressure from botulinum neurotoxins. PLoS Pathog. 10(7):e1004177 (PMC4092145) · Pubmed

    Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNT/A-G), the most potent toxins known, act by cleaving three SNARE proteins required for synaptic vesicle exocytosis. Previous studies on BoNTs have generally utilized the major SNARE homologues expressed in brain (VAMP2, syntaxin 1, and SNAP-25). However, BoNTs target peripheral motor neurons and cause death by paralyzing respiratory muscles such as the diaphragm. Here we report that VAMP1, but not VAMP2, is the SNARE homologue predominantly expressed in adult rodent diaphragm motor nerve terminals and in differentiated human motor neurons. In contrast to the highly conserved VAMP2, BoNT-resistant variations in VAMP1 are widespread across vertebrates. In particular, we identified a polymorphism at position 48 of VAMP1 in rats, which renders VAMP1 either resistant (I48) or sensitive (M48) to BoNT/D. Taking advantage of this finding, we showed that rat diaphragms with I48 in VAMP1 are insensitive to BoNT/D compared to rat diaphragms with M48 in VAMP1. This unique intra-species comparison establishes VAMP1 as a physiological toxin target in diaphragm motor nerve terminals, and demonstrates that the resistance of VAMP1 to BoNTs can underlie the insensitivity of a species to members of BoNTs. Consistently, human VAMP1 contains I48, which may explain why humans are insensitive to BoNT/D. Finally, we report that residue 48 of VAMP1 varies frequently between M and I across seventeen closely related primate species, suggesting a potential selective pressure from members of BoNTs for resistance in vertebrates.

  • Raphael BH, Bradshaw M, Kalb SR, Joseph LA, Lúquez C, Barr JR, Johnson EA, Maslanka SE (2014) Clostridium botulinum strains producing BoNT/F4 or BoNT/F5. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 80(10):3250-7 (PMC4018930) · Pubmed

    Botulinum neurotoxin type F (BoNT/F) may be produced by Clostridium botulinum alone or in combination with another toxin type such as BoNT/A or BoNT/B. Type F neurotoxin gene sequences have been further classified into seven toxin subtypes. Recently, the genome sequence of one strain of C. botulinum (Af84) was shown to contain three neurotoxin genes (bont/F4, bont/F5, and bont/A2). In this study, eight strains containing bont/F4 and seven strains containing bont/F5 were examined. Culture supernatants produced by these strains were incubated with BoNT/F-specific peptide substrates. Cleavage products of these peptides were subjected to mass spectral analysis, allowing detection of the BoNT/F subtypes present in the culture supernatants. PCR analysis demonstrated that a plasmid-specific marker (PL-6) was observed only among strains containing bont/F5. Among these strains, Southern hybridization revealed the presence of an approximately 242-kb plasmid harboring bont/F5. Genome sequencing of four of these strains revealed that the genomic backgrounds of strains harboring either bont/F4 or bont/F5 are diverse. None of the strains analyzed in this study were shown to produce BoNT/F4 and BoNT/F5 simultaneously, suggesting that strain Af84 is unusual. Finally, these data support a role for the mobility of a bont/F5-carrying plasmid among strains of diverse genomic backgrounds.

  • Blum FC, Przedpelski A, Tepp WH, Johnson EA, Barbieri JT (2014) Entry of a recombinant, full-length, atoxic tetanus neurotoxin into Neuro-2a cells. Infect. Immun. 82(2):873-81 (PMC3911378) · Pubmed

    Tetanus neurotoxin (TeNT) and botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) are clostridial neurotoxins (CNTs) responsible for the paralytic diseases tetanus and botulism, respectively. CNTs are AB toxins with an N-terminal zinc-metalloprotease light chain that is linked by a disulfide bond to a C-terminal heavy chain that includes a translocation domain and a receptor-binding domain (HCR). Current models predict that the HCR defines how CNTs enter and traffic in neurons. Recent studies implicate that domains outside the HCR contribute to CNT trafficking in neurons. In the current study, a recombinant, full-length TeNT derivative, TeNT(RY), was engineered to analyze TeNT cell entry. TeNT(RY) was atoxic in a mouse challenge model. Using Neuro-2a cells, a mouse neuroblastoma cell line, TeNT HCR (HCR/T) and TeNT(RY) were found to bind gangliosides with similar affinities and specificities, consistent with the HCR domain containing receptor binding function. Temporal studies showed that HCR/T and TeNT(RY) entered Neuro-2a cells slower than the HCR of BoNT/A (HCR/A), transferrin, and cholera toxin B. Intracellular localization showed that neither HCR/T nor TeNT(RY) localized with HCR/A or synaptic vesicle protein 2, the protein receptor for HCR/A. HCR/T and TeNT(RY) exhibited only partial intracellular colocalization, indicating that regions outside the HCR contribute to the intracellular TeNT trafficking. TeNT may require this complex functional entry organization to target neurons in the central nervous system.

  • Wang D, Krilich J, Pellett S, Baudys J, Tepp WH, Barr JR, Johnson EA, Kalb SR (2013) Comparison of the catalytic properties of the botulinum neurotoxin subtypes A1 and A5. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1834(12):2722-8 · Pubmed

    Clostridium botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) cause the life-threatening disease botulism through the inhibition of neurotransmitter release by cleaving essential SNARE proteins. There are seven serologically distinctive types of BoNTs and many subtypes within a serotype have been identified. BoNT/A5 is a recently discovered subtype of type A botulinum neurotoxin which possesses a very high degree of sequence similarity and identity to the well-studied A1 subtype. In the present study, we examined the endopeptidase activity of these two BoNT/A subtypes and our results revealed significant differences in substrate binding and cleavage efficiency between subtype A5 and A1. Distinctive hydrolysis efficiency was observed between the two toxins during cleavage of the native substrate SNAP-25 versus a shortened peptide mimic. N-terminal truncation studies demonstrated that a key region of the SNAP-25, including the amino acid residues at 151 through 154 located in the remote binding region of the substrate, contributed to the differential catalytic properties between A1 and A5. Elevated binding affinity of the peptide substrate resulted from including these important residues and enhanced BoNT/A5's hydrolysis efficiency. In addition, mutations of these amino acid residues affect the proteolytic performance of the two toxins in different ways. This study provides a better understanding of the biological activity of these toxins, their performance characteristics in the Endopep-MS assay to detect BoNT in clinical samples and foods, and is useful for the development of peptide substrates.

  • Silhár P, Eubanks LM, Seki H, Pellett S, Javor S, Tepp WH, Johnson EA, Janda KD (2013) Targeting botulinum A cellular toxicity: a prodrug approach. J. Med. Chem. 56(20):7870-9 (PMC3880648) · Pubmed

    The botulinum neurotoxin light chain (LC) protease has become an important therapeutic target for postexposure treatment of botulism. Hydroxamic acid based small molecules have proven to be potent inhibitors of LC/A with nanomolar Ki values, yet they lack cellular activity conceivably due to low membrane permeability. To overcome this potential liability, we investigated two prodrug strategies, 1,4,2-dioxazole and carbamate, based on our 1-adamantylacetohydroxamic acid scaffold. The 1,4,2-dioxazole prodrug did not demonstrate cellular activity, however, carbamates exhibited cellular potency with the most active compound displaying an EC50 value of 20 μM. Cellular trafficking studies were conducted using a "fluorescently silent" prodrug that remained in this state until cellular uptake was complete, which allowed for visualization of the drug's release inside neuronal cells. In sum, this research sets the stage for future studies leveraging the specific targeting and delivery of these prodrugs, as well as other antibotulinum agents, into neuronal cells.

  • Johnson EA (2013) Biotechnology of non-Saccharomyces yeasts-the basidiomycetes. Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 97(17):7563-77 · Pubmed

    Yeasts are the major producer of biotechnology products worldwide, exceeding production in capacity and economic revenues of other groups of industrial microorganisms. Yeasts have wide-ranging fundamental and industrial importance in scientific, food, medical, and agricultural disciplines (Fig. 1). Saccharomyces is the most important genus of yeast from fundamental and applied perspectives and has been expansively studied. Non-Saccharomyces yeasts (non-conventional yeasts) including members of the Ascomycetes and Basidiomycetes also have substantial current utility and potential applicability in biotechnology. In an earlier mini-review, "Biotechnology of non-Saccharomyces yeasts-the ascomycetes" (Johnson Appl Microb Biotechnol 97: 503-517, 2013), the extensive biotechnological utility and potential of ascomycetous yeasts are described. Ascomycetous yeasts are particularly important in food and ethanol formation, production of single-cell protein, feeds and fodder, heterologous production of proteins and enzymes, and as model and fundamental organisms for the delineation of genes and their function in mammalian and human metabolism and disease processes. In contrast, the roles of basidiomycetous yeasts in biotechnology have mainly been evaluated only in the past few decades and compared to the ascomycetous yeasts and currently have limited industrial utility. From a biotechnology perspective, the basidiomycetous yeasts are known mainly for the production of enzymes used in pharmaceutical and chemical synthesis, for production of certain classes of primary and secondary metabolites such as terpenoids and carotenoids, for aerobic catabolism of complex carbon sources, and for bioremediation of environmental pollutants and xenotoxicants. Notwithstanding, the basidiomycetous yeasts appear to have considerable potential in biotechnology owing to their catabolic utilities, formation of enzymes acting on recalcitrant substrates, and through the production of unique primary and secondary metabolites. This and the earlier mini-review (Johnson Appl Microb Biotechnol 97:503-517, 2013) were motivated during the preparation and publication of the landmark three-volume set of "The yeasts: a taxonomic study, 5th edition" (Kurtzman et al. 2011a, b).

  • Przedpelski A, Tepp WH, Kroken AR, Fu Z, Kim JJ, Johnson EA, Barbieri JT (2013) Enhancing the protective immune response against botulism. Infect. Immun. 81(7):2638-44 (PMC3697623) · Pubmed

    The need for a vaccine against botulism has increased since the discontinuation of the pentavalent (ABCDE) botulinum toxoid vaccine by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The botulinum toxins (BoNTs) are the primary virulence factors and vaccine components against botulism. BoNTs comprise three domains which are involved in catalysis (LC), translocation (HCT), and host receptor binding (HCR). Recombinant HCR subunits have been used to develop the next generation of BoNT vaccines. Using structural studies and the known entry properties of BoNT/A, an HCR subunit vaccine against BoNT/A that contained the point mutation W1266A within the ganglioside binding pocket was designed. HCR/A(W1266A) did not enter primary neurons, and the crystal structure of HCR/A(W1266A) was virtually identical to that of wild-type HCR/A. Using a mouse model, experiments were performed using a high-dose vaccine and a low-dose vaccine. At a high vaccine dose, HCR/A and HCR/A(W1266A) elicited a protective immune response to BoNT/A challenge. At the low-dose vaccination, HCR/A(W1266A) was a more protective vaccine than HCR/A. α-HCR IgG titers correlated with protection from BoNT challenge, although titers to block HCR/A entry were greater in serum in HCR/A-vaccinated mice than in HCR/A(W1266A)-vaccinated mice. This study shows that removal of receptor binding capacity enhances potency of the subunit HCR vaccine. Vaccines that lack receptor binding capacity have the added property of limited off-target toxicity.

  • Kamps-Hughes N, Quimby A, Zhu Z, Johnson EA (2013) Massively parallel characterization of restriction endonucleases. Nucleic Acids Res. 41(11):e119 (PMC3675476) · Pubmed

    Restriction endonucleases are highly specific in recognizing the particular DNA sequence they act on. However, their activity is affected by sequence context, enzyme concentration and buffer composition. Changes in these factors may lead to either ineffective cleavage at the cognate restriction site or relaxed specificity allowing cleavage of degenerate 'star' sites. Additionally, uncharacterized restriction endonucleases and engineered variants present novel activities. Traditionally, restriction endonuclease activity is assayed on simple substrates such as plasmids and synthesized oligonucleotides. We present and use high-throughput Illumina sequencing-based strategies to assay the sequence specificity and flanking sequence preference of restriction endonucleases. The techniques use fragmented DNA from sequenced genomes to quantify restriction endonuclease cleavage on a complex genomic DNA substrate in a single reaction. By mapping millions of restriction site-flanking reads back to the Escherichia coli and Drosophila melanogaster genomes we were able to quantitatively characterize the cognate and star site activity of EcoRI and MfeI and demonstrate genome-wide decreases in star activity with engineered high-fidelity variants EcoRI-HF and MfeI-HF, as well as quantify the influence on MfeI cleavage conferred by flanking nucleotides. The methods presented are readily applicable to all type II restriction endonucleases that cleave both strands of double-stranded DNA.

  • Hernández-Barrera A, Quinto C, Johnson EA, Wu HM, Cheung AY, Cárdenas L (2013) Using hyper as a molecular probe to visualize hydrogen peroxide in living plant cells: a method with virtually unlimited potential in plant biology. Meth. Enzymol. 527:275-90 · Pubmed

    Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are highly reactive reduced oxygen molecules that play a myriad of roles in animal and plant cells. In plant cells, the production of ROS occurs as a result of aerobic metabolism during respiration and photosynthesis. Therefore mitochondria, chloroplasts, and peroxisomes constitute an important source of ROS. However, they can be produced in response to many physiological stimuli such as pathogen attack, hormone signaling, abiotic stresses, or during cell wall organization and plant morphogenesis. Monitoring ROS in plant cells has been limited to biochemical assays and use of fluorescent probes, however, the irreversible oxidation of the fluorescent dyes make it impossible to visualize dynamic changes of ROS. Hyper is a recently developed live cell probe for H2O2 and consists of a circularly permutated YFP (cpYFP) inserted into the regulatory domain of the Escherichia coli hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) sensor OxyR rendering it a H2O2 specific ratiometric, and therefore quantitative probe. Herein, we describe a protocol for using Hyper as a dynamic probe for H2O2 in Arabidopsis with virtually unlimited potential to detect H2O2 throughout the plant and under a broad range of developmental and environmental conditions.

  • Chun CL, Ochsner U, Byappanahalli MN, Whitman RL, Tepp WH, Lin G, Johnson EA, Peller J, Sadowsky MJ (2013) Association of toxin-producing Clostridium botulinum with the macroalga Cladophora in the Great Lakes. Environ. Sci. Technol. 47(6):2587-94 · Pubmed

    Avian botulism, a paralytic disease of birds, often occurs on a yearly cycle and is increasingly becoming more common in the Great Lakes. Outbreaks are caused by bird ingestion of neurotoxins produced by Clostridium botulinum, a spore-forming, gram-positive, anaerobe. The nuisance, macrophytic, green alga Cladophora (Chlorophyta; mostly Cladophora glomerata L.) is a potential habitat for the growth of C. botulinum. A high incidence of botulism in shoreline birds at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (SLBE) in Lake Michigan coincides with increasingly massive accumulations of Cladophora in nearshore waters. In this study, free-floating algal mats were collected from SLBE and other shorelines of the Great Lakes between June and October 2011. The abundance of C. botulinum in algal mats was quantified and the type of botulism neurotoxin (bont) genes associated with this organism were determined by using most-probable-number PCR (MPN-PCR) and five distinct bont gene-specific primers (A, B, C, E, and F). The MPN-PCR results showed that 16 of 22 (73%) algal mats from the SLBE and 23 of 31(74%) algal mats from other shorelines of the Great Lakes contained the bont type E (bont/E) gene. C. botulinum was present up to 15000 MPN per gram dried algae based on gene copies of bont/E. In addition, genes for bont/A and bont/B, which are commonly associated with human diseases, were detected in a few algal samples. Moreover, C. botulinum was present as vegetative cells rather than as dormant spores in Cladophora mats. Mouse toxin assays done using supernatants from enrichment of Cladophora containing high densities of C. botulinum (>1000 MPN/g dried algae) showed that Cladophora-borne C. botulinum were toxin-producing species (BoNT/E). Our results indicate that Cladophora provides a habitat for C. botulinum, warranting additional studies to better understand the relationship between this bacterium and the alga, and how this interaction potentially contributes to botulism outbreaks in birds.

  • Peng L, Liu H, Ruan H, Tepp WH, Stoothoff WH, Brown RH, Johnson EA, Yao WD, Zhang SC, Dong M (2013) Cytotoxicity of botulinum neurotoxins reveals a direct role of syntaxin 1 and SNAP-25 in neuron survival. Nat Commun 4:1472 (PMC4052923) · Pubmed

    Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNT/A-G) act by blocking synaptic vesicle exocytosis. Whether BoNTs disrupt additional neuronal functions has not been addressed. Here we report that cleavage of syntaxin 1 by BoNT/C, and cleavage of SNAP-25 by BoNT/E both induce degeneration of neurons. Furthermore, although SNAP-25 cleaved by BoNT/A still supports neuron survival, it has reduced capacity to tolerate additional mutations. We demonstrate that syntaxin 1 and SNAP-25 cooperate as SNARE proteins to support neuron survival. Exogenous expression of other homologous SNARE proteins, syntaxin 2/3/4 and SNAP-23, which are resistant to BoNT/C and E in neurons, can substitute syntaxin 1/SNAP-25 and prevent toxin-induced neuron death. Finally, we find that neuronal death is due to blockage of plasma membrane recycling processes that utilize syntaxin 1/SNAP-25, independent of synaptic vesicle exocytosis. These findings establish neuronal cytotoxicity for BoNTs and reveal syntaxin 1/SNAP-25 as the ubiquitous and essential SNARE proteins mediating multiple fusion events on neuronal plasma membranes.

  • Whitemarsh RC, Pier CL, Tepp WH, Pellett S, Johnson EA (2012) Model for studying Clostridium botulinum neurotoxin using differentiated motor neuron-like NG108-15 cells. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 427(2):426-30 (PMC3486637) · Pubmed

    Cancerous cell lines have traditionally shown low sensitivity to laboratory or pharmaceutical preparations of botulinum neurotoxin. The work presented here demonstrates that the mouse neuroblastoma/rat glioma hybrid cell line NG108-15 is capable of more sensitively detecting BoNT/A1 than any cell line previously described. This cell line has previously been described to have motor neuron like characteristics, therefore making it a good model to study BoNTs. Differentiation of NG108-15 cells in serum-free medium containing retinoic acid and purmorphamine dramatically increased sensitivity of the neurons to BoNT/A (EC(50) = ~16 LD(50) U). Additional pre-treatment with triasialoganglioside GT1B prior to toxin exposure reduced the EC(50) further to ~11 LD(50) U. Co-culture of the neurons with C2C12 myotubes also significantly increased BoNT/A sensitivity of NG108-15 cells (EC(50) = 26 U) in the absence of differentiation factors.

  • Guan Z, Johnston NC, Raetz CR, Johnson EA, Goldfine H (2012) Lipid diversity among botulinum neurotoxin-producing clostridia. Microbiology (Reading, Engl.) 158(Pt 10):2577-84 · Pubmed

    Clostridium botulinum has been classified into four groupings (groups I to IV) based on physiological characteristics and 16S rRNA sequencing. We have examined the lipid compositions of 11 representative strains of C. botulinum and a strain of Clostridium sporogenes by 2D-TLC and by MS. All strains contained phosphatidylglycerol (PG), cardiolipin (CL) and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) in both the all-acyl and the alk-1'-enyl (plasmalogen) forms. Five strains in proteolytic group I, which are related to C. sporogenes, contained varying amounts of an ethanolamine-phosphate derivative of N-acetylglucosaminyl-diradylglycerol, which is also present in C. sporogenes. Three strains in group II, which are related to Clostridium butyricum, Clostridium beijerinckii and Clostridium acetobutylicum, contained lipids characteristic of these saccharolytic species: a glycerol acetal and a PG acetal of the plasmalogen form of PE. Two group III strains, which are related to Clostridium novyi, contained amino-acyl derivatives of PG, which are also found in C. novyi. A strain in group IV had PE, PG and CL, but none of the distinguishing lipids. This work shows that the lipidome of C. botulinum is consistent with its classification by other methods.

  • Strotman LN, Lin G, Berry SM, Johnson EA, Beebe DJ (2012) Facile and rapid DNA extraction and purification from food matrices using IFAST (immiscible filtration assisted by surface tension). Analyst 137(17):4023-8 · Pubmed

    Extraction and purification of DNA is a prerequisite to detection and analytical techniques. While DNA sample preparation methods have improved over the last few decades, current methods are still time consuming and labor intensive. Here we demonstrate a technology termed IFAST (Immiscible Filtration Assisted by Surface Tension), that relies on immiscible phase filtration to reduce the time and effort required to purify DNA. IFAST replaces the multiple wash and centrifugation steps required by traditional DNA sample preparation methods with a single step. To operate, DNA from lysed cells is bound to paramagnetic particles (PMPs) and drawn through an immiscible fluid phase barrier (i.e. oil) by an external handheld magnet. Purified DNA is then eluted from the PMPs. Here, detection of Clostridium botulinum type A (BoNT/A) in food matrices (milk, orange juice), a bioterrorism concern, was used as a model system to establish IFAST's utility in detection assays. Data validated that the DNA purified by IFAST was functional as a qPCR template to amplify the bont/A gene. The sensitivity limit of IFAST was comparable to the commercially available Invitrogen ChargeSwitch® method. Notably, pathogen detection via IFAST required only 8.5 μL of sample and was accomplished in five-fold less time. The simplicity, rapidity and portability of IFAST offer significant advantages when compared to existing DNA sample preparation methods.

  • Peng L, Berntsson RP, Tepp WH, Pitkin RM, Johnson EA, Stenmark P, Dong M (2012) Botulinum neurotoxin D-C uses synaptotagmin I and II as receptors, and human synaptotagmin II is not an effective receptor for type B, D-C and G toxins. J. Cell. Sci. 125(Pt 13):3233-42 · Pubmed

    Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) are classified into seven types (A-G), but multiple subtype and mosaic toxins exist. These subtype and mosaic toxins share a high sequence identity, and presumably the same receptors and substrates with their parental toxins. Here, we report that a mosaic toxin, type D-C (BoNT/D-C), uses different receptors from its parental toxin BoNT/C. BoNT/D-C, but not BoNT/C, binds directly to the luminal domains of synaptic vesicle proteins synaptotagmin (Syt) I and II, and requires expression of SytI/II to enter neurons. The SytII luminal fragment containing the toxin-binding site can block the entry of BoNT/D-C into neurons and reduce its toxicity in vivo in mice. We also found that gangliosides increase binding of BoNT/D-C to SytI/II and enhance the ability of the SytII luminal fragment to block BoNT/D-C entry into neurons. These data establish SytI/II, in conjunction with gangliosides, as the receptors for BoNT/D-C, and indicate that BoNT/D-C is functionally distinct from BoNT/C. We further found that BoNT/D-C recognizes the same binding site on SytI/II where BoNT/B and G also bind, but utilizes a receptor-binding interface that is distinct from BoNT/B and G. Finally, we also report that human and chimpanzee SytII has diminished binding and function as the receptor for BoNT/B, D-C and G owing to a single residue change from rodent SytII within the toxin binding site, potentially reducing the potency of these BoNTs in humans and chimpanzees.

  • Tepp WH, Lin G, Johnson EA (2012) Purification and characterization of a novel subtype a3 botulinum neurotoxin. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 78(9):3108-13 (PMC3346436) · Pubmed

    Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) produced by Clostridium botulinum are of considerable importance due to their being the cause of human and animal botulism, their potential as bioterrorism agents, and their utility as important pharmaceuticals. Type A is prominent due to its high toxicity and long duration of action. Five subtypes of type A BoNT are currently recognized; BoNT/A1, -/A2, and -/A5 have been purified, and their properties have been studied. BoNT/A3 is intriguing because it is not effectively neutralized by polyclonal anti-BoNT/A1 antibodies, and thus, it may potentially replace BoNT/A1 for patients who have become refractive to treatment with BoNT/A1 due to antibody formation or other modes of resistance. Purification of BoNT/A3 has been challenging because of its low levels of production in culture and the need for innovative purification procedures. In this study, modified Mueller-Miller medium was used in place of traditional toxin production medium (TPM) to culture C. botulinum A3 (CDC strain) and boost toxin production. BoNT/A3 titers were at least 10-fold higher than those produced in TPM. A purification method was developed to obtain greater than 95% pure BoNT/A3. The specific toxicity of BoNT/A3 as determined by mouse bioassay was 5.8 × 10(7) 50% lethal doses (LD(50))/mg. Neutralization of BoNT/A3 toxicity by a polyclonal anti-BoNT/A1 antibody was approximately 10-fold less than the neutralization of BoNT/A1 toxicity. In addition, differences in symptoms were observed between mice that were injected with BoNT/A3 and those that were injected with BoNT/A1. These results indicate that BoNT/A3 has novel biochemical and pharmacological properties compared to those of other subtype A toxins.

  • Henkel JS, Tepp WH, Przedpelski A, Fritz RB, Johnson EA, Barbieri JT (2011) Subunit vaccine efficacy against Botulinum neurotoxin subtypes. Vaccine 29(44):7688-95 (PMC3209516) · Pubmed

    Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNT) are classified into 7 serotypes (A-G) based upon neutralization by serotype-specific anti-sera. Several recombinant serotype-specific subunit BoNT vaccines have been developed, including a subunit vaccine comprising the receptor binding domain (HCR) of the BoNTs. Sequencing of the genes encoding BoNTs has identified variants (subtypes) that possess up to 32% primary amino acid variation among different BoNT serotypes. Studies were conducted to characterize the ability of the HCR of BoNT/A to protect against challenge by heterologous BoNT/A subtypes (A1-A3). High dose vaccination with HCR/A subtypes A1-A4 protected mice from challenge by heterologous BoNT/A subtype A1-A3, while low dose HCR vaccination yielded partial protection to heterologous BoNT/A subtype challenge. Absolute IgG titers to HCRs correlated to the dose of HCR used for vaccination, where HCR/A1 elicited an A1 subtype-specific IgG response, which was not observed with HCR/A2 vaccination. Survival of mice challenged to heterologous BoNT/A2 following low dose HCR/A1 vaccination correlated with elevated IgG titers directed to the denatured C-terminal sub-domain of HCR/A2, while survival of mice to heterologous BoNT/A1 following low dose HCR/A2 vaccination correlated to elevated IgG titers directed to native HCRc/A1. This implies that low dose vaccinations with HCR/A subtypes elicit unique IgG responses, and provides a basis to define how the host develops a neutralizing immune response to BoNT intoxication. These results may provide a reference for the development of pan-BoNT vaccines.

  • Sun S, Suresh S, Liu H, Tepp WH, Johnson EA, Edwardson JM, Chapman ER (2011) Receptor binding enables botulinum neurotoxin B to sense low pH for translocation channel assembly. Cell Host Microbe 10(3):237-47 (PMC3243646) · Pubmed

    Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs, serotypes A-G), elaborated by Clostridium botulinum, can induce lethal paralysis and are classified as Category A bioterrorism agents. However, how BoNTs translocate from endosomes into the cytosol of neurons to gain access to their intracellular targets remains enigmatic. We discovered that binding to the ganglioside GT1b, a toxin coreceptor, enables BoNT/B to sense low pH, undergo a significant change in secondary structure, and transform into a hydrophobic oligomeric membrane protein. Imaging of the toxin on lipid bilayers using atomic force microscopy revealed donut-shaped channel-like structures that resemble other protein translocation assemblies. Toosendanin, a drug with therapeutic effects against botulism, inhibited GT1b-dependent BoNT/B oligomerization and in parallel truncated BoNT/B single-channel conductance, suggesting that oligomerization plays a role in the translocation reaction. Thus, BoNT/B functions as a coincidence detector for receptor and low pH to ensure spatial and temporal accuracy for toxin conversion into a translocation channel.

  • Jacobson MJ, Lin G, Tepp W, Dupuy J, Stenmark P, Stevens RC, Johnson EA (2011) Purification, modeling, and analysis of botulinum neurotoxin subtype A5 (BoNT/A5) from Clostridium botulinum strain A661222. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 77(12):4217-22 (PMC3131645) · Pubmed

    A Clostridium botulinum type A strain (A661222) in our culture collection was found to produce the botulinum neurotoxin subtype A5 (BoNT/A5). Its neurotoxin gene was sequenced to determine its degree of similarity to available sequences of BoNT/A5 and the well-studied BoNT/A1. Thirty-six amino acid differences were observed between BoNT/A5 and BoNT/A1, with the predominant number being located in the heavy chain. The amino acid chain of the BoNT/A from the A661222 strain was superimposed over the crystal structure of the known structure of BoNT/A1 to assess the potential significance of these differences--specifically how they would affect antibody neutralization. The BoNT/A5 neurotoxin was purified to homogeneity and evaluated for certain properties, including specific toxicity and antibody neutralization. This study reports the first purification of BoNTA5 and describes distinct differences in properties between BoNT/A5 and BoNT/A1.

  • Peng L, Tepp WH, Johnson EA, Dong M (2011) Botulinum neurotoxin D uses synaptic vesicle protein SV2 and gangliosides as receptors. PLoS Pathog. 7(3):e1002008 (PMC3068998) · Pubmed

    Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) include seven bacterial toxins (BoNT/A-G) that target presynaptic terminals and act as proteases cleaving proteins required for synaptic vesicle exocytosis. Here we identified synaptic vesicle protein SV2 as the protein receptor for BoNT/D. BoNT/D enters cultured hippocampal neurons via synaptic vesicle recycling and can bind SV2 in brain detergent extracts. BoNT/D failed to bind and enter neurons lacking SV2, which can be rescued by expressing one of the three SV2 isoforms (SV2A/B/C). Localization of SV2 on plasma membranes mediated BoNT/D binding in both neurons and HEK293 cells. Furthermore, chimeric receptors containing the binding sites for BoNT/A and E, two other BoNTs that use SV2 as receptors, failed to mediate the entry of BoNT/D suggesting that BoNT/D binds SV2 via a mechanism distinct from BoNT/A and E. Finally, we demonstrated that gangliosides are essential for the binding and entry of BoNT/D into neurons and for its toxicity in vivo, supporting a double-receptor model for this toxin.

  • Marshall KM, Bradshaw M, Johnson EA (2010) Conjugative botulinum neurotoxin-encoding plasmids in Clostridium botulinum. PLoS ONE 5(6):e11087 (PMC2884020) · Pubmed

    Clostridium botulinum produces seven distinct serotypes of botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs). The genes encoding different subtype neurotoxins of serotypes A, B, F and several dual neurotoxin-producing strains have been shown to reside on plasmids, suggesting that intra- and interspecies transfer of BoNT-encoding plasmids may occur. The objective of the present study was to determine whether these C. botulinum BoNT-encoding plasmids are conjugative. C. botulinum BoNT-encoding plasmids pBotCDC-A3 (strain CDC-A3), pCLJ (strain 657Ba) and pCLL (strain Eklund 17B) were tagged with the erythromycin resistance marker (Erm) using the ClosTron mutagenesis system by inserting a group II intron into the neurotoxin genes carried on these plasmids. Transfer of the tagged plasmids from the donor strains CDC-A3, 657Ba and Eklund 17B to tetracycline-resistant recipient C. botulinum strains was evaluated in mating experiments. Erythromycin and tetracycline resistant transconjugants were isolated from donor:recipient mating pairs tested. Transfer of the plasmids to the transconjugants was confirmed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and Southern hybridizations. Transfer required cell-to-cell contact and was DNase resistant. This indicates that transfer of these plasmids occurs via a conjugation mechanism. This is the first evidence supporting conjugal transfer of native botulinum neurotoxin-encoding plasmids in C. botulinum, and provides a probable mechanism for the lateral distribution of BoNT-encoding plasmids to other C. botulinum strains. The potential transfer of C. botulinum BoNT-encoding plasmids to other bacterial hosts in the environment or within the human intestine is of great concern for human pathogenicity and necessitates further characterization of these plasmids.

  • Nakai Y, Pellett S, Tepp WH, Johnson EA, Janda KD (2010) Toosendanin: synthesis of the AB-ring and investigations of its anti-botulinum properties (Part II). Bioorg. Med. Chem. 18(3):1280-7 (PMC2819598) · Pubmed

    Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) are the etiological agents responsible for botulism, a disease characterized by peripheral neuromuscular blockade and a characteristic flaccid paralysis of humans. The natural product toosendanin, a limonoid, is a traditional Chinese medicine that has reported anti-botulinum properties in animal models. Toosendanin effectively inhibits the biological activity of BoNT/A in neuronal cells at concentrations of 200 nM, and partial inhibition can be observed with concentrations as low as 8 nM. Mechanistically, toosendanin's inhibition is due to prevention of transduction of the BoNT LC through the HC channel. Intriguing questions as to the molecular architecture of toosendanin as related to its anti-botulinum properties have focused our attention on a synthesis of toosendanin's unusual AB-ring, containing a unique bridged hemi-acetal. Within the current work, a synthetic strategy allowing access to the AB-fragment of toosendanin was achieved from a trans-decalin system. In addition, this fragment was examined for its modulation of BoNT/A intoxication in a rat spinal cord cellular assay.

  • Lin G, Tepp WH, Pier CL, Jacobson MJ, Johnson EA (2010) Expression of the Clostridium botulinum A2 neurotoxin gene cluster proteins and characterization of the A2 complex. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 76(1):40-7 (PMC2798633) · Pubmed

    Clostridium botulinum subtype A2 possesses a botulinum neurotoxin type A (BoNT/A) gene cluster consisting of an orfX cluster containing open reading frames (ORFs) of unknown functions. To better understand the association between the BoNT/A2 complex proteins, first, the orfX cluster proteins (ORFX1, ORFX3, P47, and the middle part of NTNH) from C. botulinum A2 strain Kyoto F and NTNH of A1 strain ATCC 3502 were expressed by using either an Escherichia coli or a C. botulinum expression system. Polyclonal antibodies against individual orfX cluster proteins were prepared by immunizing a rabbit and mice against the expressed proteins. Antibodies were then utilized as probes to determine which of the A2 orfX cluster genes were expressed in the native A2 culture. N-terminal protein sequencing was also employed to specifically detect ORFX2. Results showed that all of the neurotoxin cluster proteins, except ORFX1, were expressed in the A2 culture. A BoNT/A2 toxin complex (TC) was purified which showed that C. botulinum A2 formed a medium-size (300-kDa) TC composed of BoNT/A2 and NTNH without any of the other OrfX cluster proteins. NTNH subtype-specific immunoreactivity was also discovered, allowing for the differentiation of subtypes based on cluster proteins associated with BoNT.

  • Bradshaw M, Marshall KM, Heap JT, Tepp WH, Minton NP, Johnson EA (2010) Construction of a nontoxigenic Clostridium botulinum strain for food challenge studies. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 76(2):387-93 (PMC2805223) · Pubmed

    Clostridium botulinum produces the most poisonous natural toxin known and is a perennial concern to the food industry and to regulatory agencies due to the potential threat of food-borne botulism. To ensure the botulinal safety of foods, rigorous food challenge testing to validate food-processing conditions and food formulations has been routinely performed. Detection of the botulinum neurotoxin is performed by using a mouse bioassay and/or in vitro assays. There has been considerable interest by the food industry and regulatory agencies in minimizing or even replacing the use of animals in these challenge studies. In addition, due to stringent select-agent regulations, the testing of various foods using toxigenic C. botulinum strains requires facilities and personnel that are certified for work with this organism. For this purpose we propose to generate sets of nontoxigenic C. botulinum strains from proteolytic and nonproteolytic groups that differ from the wild-type strains only by their inability to produce botulinum neurotoxin. In this initial study we describe the generation of a nontoxigenic mutant of C. botulinum strain 62A using the ClosTron mutagenesis system by inserting a group II intron into the botulinum neurotoxin type A gene (bont/A). The mutant clones were nontoxigenic as determined by Western blots and mouse bioassays but showed physiological characteristics, including growth properties and sporulation, that were similar to those of the parent strain in laboratory media. Additional studies will be required to evaluate comparable characteristics in various food matrices. The availability of suitable nontoxigenic C. botulinum strains for food challenge studies will be beneficial for enhancing the botulinal safety of foods as well as increasing the biosafety of workers and may eliminate the use of laboratory animals.

  • Helenius IT, Krupinski T, Turnbull DW, Gruenbaum Y, Silverman N, Johnson EA, Sporn PH, Sznajder JI, Beitel GJ (2009) Elevated CO2 suppresses specific Drosophila innate immune responses and resistance to bacterial infection. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 106(44):18710-5 (PMC2773965) · Pubmed

    Elevated CO(2) levels (hypercapnia) frequently occur in patients with obstructive pulmonary diseases and are associated with increased mortality. However, the effects of hypercapnia on non-neuronal tissues and the mechanisms that mediate these effects are largely unknown. Here, we develop Drosophila as a genetically tractable model for defining non-neuronal CO(2) responses and response pathways. We show that hypercapnia significantly impairs embryonic morphogenesis, egg laying, and egg hatching even in mutants lacking the Gr63a neuronal CO(2) sensor. Consistent with previous reports that hypercapnic acidosis can suppress mammalian NF-kappaB-regulated innate immune genes, we find that in adult flies and the phagocytic immune-responsive S2* cell line, hypercapnia suppresses induction of specific antimicrobial peptides that are regulated by Relish, a conserved Rel/NF-kappaB family member. Correspondingly, modest hypercapnia (7-13%) increases mortality of flies inoculated with E. faecalis, A. tumefaciens, or S. aureus. During E. faecalis and A. tumefaciens infection, increased bacterial loads were observed, indicating that hypercapnia can decrease host resistance. Hypercapnic immune suppression is not mediated by acidosis, the olfactory CO(2) receptor Gr63a, or by nitric oxide signaling. Further, hypercapnia does not induce responses characteristic of hypoxia, oxidative stress, or heat shock. Finally, proteolysis of the Relish IkappaB-like domain is unaffected by hypercapnia, indicating that immunosuppression acts downstream of, or in parallel to, Relish proteolytic activation. Our results suggest that hypercapnic immune suppression is mediated by a conserved response pathway, and illustrate a mechanism by which hypercapnia could contribute to worse outcomes of patients with advanced lung disease, who frequently suffer from both hypercapnia and respiratory infections.

  • Trott DL, Yang M, Gonzalez J, Larson AE, Tepp WH, Johnson EA, Cook ME (2009) Egg yolk antibodies for detection and neutralization of Clostridium botulinum type A neurotoxin. J. Food Prot. 72(5):1005-11 · Pubmed

    The objective of this research project was to determine the usefulness of an egg antibody platform for producing materials for the detection and neutralization of botulinum type A neurotoxin. Yield estimates for detection and neutralizing antibodies produced using methods described were calculated. Antibody specific to botulinum toxoid A (aToxoid) and toxin A (aBoNT/A) was produced by immunizing hens with botulinum toxoid A (toxoid) followed by increasing amounts of botulinum neurotoxin A (BoNT/A) in Freund incomplete adjuvant. Egg yolks were extracted with polyethylene glycol (PEG) for antibody detection and neutralization experiments. A model aToxoid/toxoid immunoassay using only egg yolk antibody was developed and had a detection limit of 1 pg/ml of toxoid. In an indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay of BoNT/A-specific antibody, the aBoNT/A contained more BoNT/A-specific antibody than did the aToxoid, and aBoNT/A was as effective as commercial rabbit antibody. The aToxoid provided no protection against BoNT/A in a standard mouse neutralization assay; however, 1 mg of PEG-extracted aBoNT/A neutralized 4,000 lethal doses of BoNT/A injected intraperitoneally. Based on these results, we calculated that in 1 month one hen could produce more than 100 liters of antibody detection reagents or enough antibody to neutralize approximately 11.6 million mouse lethal doses of botulinum toxin. Utilization of an egg antibody platform is potentially rapid (28 to 70 days) and scalable to kilogram quantities using current egg production facilities with as few as 1,000 hens.

  • Henkel JS, Jacobson M, Tepp W, Pier C, Johnson EA, Barbieri JT (2009) Catalytic properties of botulinum neurotoxin subtypes A3 and A4. Biochemistry 48(11):2522-8 (PMC2701208) · Pubmed

    Botulinum toxins (BoNT) are zinc proteases (serotypes A-G) which cause flaccid paralysis through the cleavage of SNARE proteins within motor neurons. BoNT/A was originally organized into two subtypes, BoNT/A1 and BoNT/A2, which are approximately 95% homologous and possess similar catalytic activities. Subsequently, two additional subtypes were identified, BoNT/A3 (Loch Maree) and BoNT/A4 (657Ba), which are 81 and 88% homologous with BoNT/A1, respectively. Alignment studies predicted that BoNT/A3 and BoNT/A4 were sufficiently different from BoNT/A1 to affect SNAP25 binding and cleavage. Recombinant light chain (LC) of BoNT/A3 (LC/A3) and BoNT/A4 (LC/A4) were subjected to biochemical analysis. LC/A3 cleaved SNAP25 at 50% of the rate of LC/A1 but cleaved SNAPtide at a faster rate than LC/A1, while LC/A4 cleaved SNAP25 and SNAPtide at slower rates than LC/A1. LC/A3 and LC/A4 had similar K(m) values for SNAP25 relative to LC/A1, while the k(cat) for LC/A4 was 10-fold slower than that for LC/A1, suggesting a defect in substrate cleavage. Neither LC/A3 nor LC/A4 possessed autocatalytic activity, a property of LC/A1 and LC/A2. Thus, the four subtypes of BoNT/A bind SNAP25 with similar affinity but have different catalytic capacities for SNAP25 cleavage, SNAPtide cleavage, and autocatalysis. The catalytic properties identified among the subtypes of LC/A may influence strategies for the development of small molecule or peptide inhibitors as therapies against botulism.

  • Zhou H, Zhou B, Pellett S, Johnson EA, Janda KD (2009) Selection and characterization of a human monoclonal neutralizing antibody for Clostridium Botulinum neurotoxin serotype B. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 19(3):662-4 (PMC2645068) · Pubmed

    Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) are causative agents for botulism and are identified as a category A bioterror agents by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Current antitoxins against BoNTs intoxication have some limitations including side effects or limited supply. As an alternative, neutralizing monoclonal antibodies will play an increasing role as BoNTs therapeutics. To date, no human anti-BoNT/B neutralizing monoclonal antibodies have yet to be reported. Herein, we describe an improved selection approach and characterization of a human monoclonal antibody, F2, which is capable of binding BoNT/B with high specificity and displays neutralizing activity in an in vitro cell-based assay. Through surface plasmon resonance studies, we have determined its association and dissociation rate constants. In sum, our data demonstrate that monoclonal antibody F2 is a promising BoNT/B therapeutic lead for further development.

  • Nakai Y, Tepp WH, Dickerson TJ, Johnson EA, Janda KD (2009) Function-oriented synthesis applied to the anti-botulinum natural product toosendanin. Bioorg. Med. Chem. 17(3):1152-7 (PMC2661763) · Pubmed

    Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) are the etiological agents responsible for botulism, a disease characterized by peripheral neuromuscular blockade and a characteristic flaccid paralysis of humans. The natural product toosendanin is a traditional Chinese medicine which has been reported to have anti-botulinum properties in animal models. To establish what chemical functionalities are necessary for the anti-botulinum properties found within toosendanin, a study was initiated with the goal of using function-oriented synthesis (FOS) as a strategy to begin to unravel toosendanin's powerful anti-botulinum properties. From these studies a new synthetic strategy is put forth allowing access to a 4-acetoxy CD fragment analogue (14) of toosendanin, which was achieved from mesityl oxide and acetylacetone in 14 steps. Animal studies on this fragment are also reported.

  • Iyer AV, Blinkova AL, Yang SY, Harrison M, Tepp WH, Jacobson MJ, Johnson EA, Bennett GN, Walker JR (2008) Clostridium taeniosporum is a close relative of the Clostridium botulinum Group II. Anaerobe 14(6):318-24 · Pubmed

    Clostridium taeniosporum is a Gram-positive, anaerobic, rod-shaped non-toxigenic organism isolated from Crimean lake silt. It is unique in forming spores from which about twelve large, flat, ribbon-like appendages emanate. These ribbon-like structures, about 4.5 microm long and 0.45 microm wide, are assembled from smaller fibrils with 5 nm diameter spherical heads attached to thin tails about 1-2 nm in diameter and about 40 nm in length. The appendages have four major components, a glycoprotein with a collagen-like region, two proteins each of which contains two conserved domains of unknown function, and an ortholog of the Bacillus subtilis spore morphogenetic protein SpoVM. Genes for three of these and other, possibly related proteins, cluster on two chromosome fragments. Here we report that C. taeniosporum is saccharolytic, non-proteolytic, and produces both acetic and butyric acid fermentation products. It synthesizes alpha-D-glucosidase and N-acetyl-beta,D-glucoseaminidase constitutively. These physiological properties are similar to those of the C. botulinum Group II. Genotypically, C. taeniosporum is also closely related to the same Group II, based on 16S rDNA sequences. C. taeniosporum differs from typical C. botulinum Group II strains because it is non-toxigenic and in forming the ribbon-like spore appendages. These major differences among otherwise closely related organisms suggest lateral transfer of genes for appendage synthesis and for toxigenicity.

  • Jacobson MJ, Lin G, Whittam TS, Johnson EA (2008) Phylogenetic analysis of Clostridium botulinum type A by multi-locus sequence typing. Microbiology (Reading, Engl.) 154(Pt 8):2408-15 (PMC2562668) · Pubmed

    The genus Clostridium comprises a heterogeneous group of organisms for which the phylogeny and evolutionary relationships are poorly understood. The elucidation of these evolutionary relationships necessitates the use of experimental methods that can distinguish Clostridium lineages that are time and cost effective, and can be accurately and reproducibly employed in different laboratories. Multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) has been successfully used as a reproducible and discriminating system in the study of eukaryotic and prokaryotic evolutionary biology, and for strain typing of various bacteria. In this study, MLST was applied to evaluate the evolutionary lineages in the serotype A group of Clostridium botulinum. C. botulinum type A has recently been shown to produce multiple subtypes, suggesting that it is not monophyletic as previously reported, but comprises distinct lineages. For MLST analysis, we initially evaluated 14 housekeeping genes (gapdh, tuf, sod, oppB, hsp60, dnaE, aroE, pta, 23S rDNA, aceK, rpoB, 16S rDNA, mdh and recA) for amplification and sequence analysis. In the first phase of the analysis, 30 C. botulinum type A strains producing botulinum neurotoxin subtypes A1-A4 were examined. Results of this pilot study suggested that seven of the genes (mdh, aceK, rpoB, aroE, hsp60, oppB and recA) could be used for elucidation of evolutionary lineages and strain typing. These seven housekeeping genes were successfully applied for the elucidation of lineages for 73 C. botulinum type A strains, which resulted in 24 distinct sequence types. This strategy should be applicable to phylogenetic studies and typing of other C. botulinum serotypes and Clostridium species.

  • Raphael BH, Luquez C, McCroskey LM, Joseph LA, Jacobson MJ, Johnson EA, Maslanka SE, Andreadis JD (2008) Genetic homogeneity of Clostridium botulinum type A1 strains with unique toxin gene clusters. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 74(14):4390-7 (PMC2493146) · Pubmed

    A group of five clonally related Clostridium botulinum type A strains isolated from different sources over a period of nearly 40 years harbored several conserved genetic properties. These strains contained a variant bont/A1 with five nucleotide polymorphisms compared to the gene in C. botulinum strain ATCC 3502. The strains also had a common toxin gene cluster composition (ha-/orfX+) similar to that associated with bont/A in type A strains containing an unexpressed bont/B [termed A(B) strains]. However, bont/B was not identified in the strains examined. Comparative genomic hybridization demonstrated identical genomic content among the strains relative to C. botulinum strain ATCC 3502. In addition, microarray data demonstrated the absence of several genes flanking the toxin gene cluster among the ha-/orfX+ A1 strains, suggesting the presence of genomic rearrangements with respect to this region compared to the C. botulinum ATCC 3502 strain. All five strains were shown to have identical flaA variable region nucleotide sequences. The pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns of the strains were indistinguishable when digested with SmaI, and a shift in the size of at least one band was observed in a single strain when digested with XhoI. These results demonstrate surprising genomic homogeneity among a cluster of unique C. botulinum type A strains of diverse origin.

  • Jacobson MJ, Lin G, Raphael B, Andreadis J, Johnson EA (2008) Analysis of neurotoxin cluster genes in Clostridium botulinum strains producing botulinum neurotoxin serotype A subtypes. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 74(9):2778-86 (PMC2394882) · Pubmed

    Neurotoxin cluster gene sequences and arrangements were elucidated for strains of Clostridium botulinum encoding botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) subtypes A3, A4, and a unique A1-producing strain (HA(-) Orfx(+) A1). These sequences were compared to the known neurotoxin cluster sequences of C. botulinum strains that produce BoNT/A1 and BoNT/A2 and possess either a hemagglutinin (HA) or an Orfx cluster, respectively. The A3 and HA(-) Orfx(+) A1 strains demonstrated a neurotoxin cluster arrangement similar to that found in A2. The A4 strain analyzed possessed two sets of neurotoxin clusters that were similar to what has been found in the A(B) strains: an HA cluster associated with the BoNT/B gene and an Orfx cluster associated with the BoNT/A4 gene. The nucleotide and amino acid sequences of the neurotoxin cluster-specific genes were determined for each neurotoxin cluster and compared among strains. Additionally, the ntnh gene of each strain was compared on both the nucleotide and amino acid levels. The degree of similarity of the sequences of the ntnh genes and corresponding amino acid sequences correlated with the neurotoxin cluster type to which the ntnh gene was assigned.

  • Baldwin MR, Tepp WH, Przedpelski A, Pier CL, Bradshaw M, Johnson EA, Barbieri JT (2008) Subunit vaccine against the seven serotypes of botulism. Infect. Immun. 76(3):1314-8 (PMC2258812) · Pubmed

    Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) are the most toxic proteins for humans and are classified as category A toxins. There are seven serotypes of BoNTs defined by the lack of cross-serotype toxin neutralization. Thus, an effective vaccine must neutralize each BoNT serotype. BoNTs are organized as dichain A-B toxins, where the N-terminal domain (light chain) is a zinc metalloprotease targeting soluble NSF attachment receptor proteins that is linked to the C-terminal domain (heavy chain [HC]) by a disulfide bond. The HC comprises a translocation domain and a C-terminal receptor binding domain (HCR). HCRs of the seven serotypes of BoNTs (hepta-HCR) were engineered for expression in Escherichia coli, and each HCR was purified from E. coli lysates. Immunization of mice with the E. coli-derived hepta-serotype HCR vaccine elicited an antibody response to each of the seven BoNT HCRs and neutralized challenge by 10,000 50% lethal doses of each of the seven BoNT serotypes. A solid-phase assay showed that the anti-hepta-serotype HCR sera inhibited the binding of HCR serotypes A and B to the ganglioside GT1b, the first step in BoNT intoxication of neurons. This is the first E. coli-derived vaccine that effectively neutralizes each of the seven BoNT serotypes.

  • Marshall KM, Bradshaw M, Pellett S, Johnson EA (2007) Plasmid encoded neurotoxin genes in Clostridium botulinum serotype A subtypes. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 361(1):49-54 (PMC2346372) · Pubmed

    Clostridium botulinum, an important pathogen of humans and animals, produces botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT), the most poisonous toxin known. We have determined by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and Southern hybridizations that the genes encoding BoNTs in strains Loch Maree (subtype A3) and 657Ba (type B and subtype A4) are located on large (approximately 280 kb) plasmids. This is the first demonstration of plasmid-borne neurotoxin genes in Clostridium botulinum serotypes A and B. The finding of BoNT type A and B genes on extrachromosomal elements has important implications for the evolution of neurotoxigenicity in clostridia including the origin, expression, and lateral transfer of botulinum neurotoxin genes.

  • Kale RR, Clancy CM, Vermillion RM, Johnson EA, Iyer SS (2007) Synthesis of soluble multivalent glycoconjugates that target the Hc region of botulinum neurotoxin A. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 17(9):2459-64 · Pubmed

    The design, synthesis, and initial inhibitory studies of di- and tetravalent glycoconjugates that target the heavy chain of botulinum neurotoxin A are reported.

  • Hill KK, Smith TJ, Helma CH, Ticknor LO, Foley BT, Svensson RT, Brown JL, Johnson EA, Smith LA, Okinaka RT, Jackson PJ, Marks JD (2007) Genetic diversity among Botulinum Neurotoxin-producing clostridial strains. J. Bacteriol. 189(3):818-32 (PMC1797315) · Pubmed

    Clostridium botulinum is a taxonomic designation for many diverse anaerobic spore-forming rod-shaped bacteria that have the common property of producing botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs). The BoNTs are exoneurotoxins that can cause severe paralysis and death in humans and other animal species. A collection of 174 C. botulinum strains was examined by amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) analysis and by sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene and BoNT genes to examine the genetic diversity within this species. This collection contained representatives of each of the seven different serotypes of botulinum neurotoxins (BoNT/A to BoNT/G). Analysis of the16S rRNA gene sequences confirmed previous identifications of at least four distinct genomic backgrounds (groups I to IV), each of which has independently acquired one or more BoNT genes through horizontal gene transfer. AFLP analysis provided higher resolution and could be used to further subdivide the four groups into subgroups. Sequencing of the BoNT genes from multiple strains of serotypes A, B, and E confirmed significant sequence variation within each serotype. Four distinct lineages within each of the BoNT A and B serotypes and five distinct lineages of serotype E strains were identified. The nucleotide sequences of the seven toxin genes of the serotypes were compared and showed various degrees of interrelatedness and recombination, as was previously noted for the nontoxic nonhemagglutinin gene, which is linked to the BoNT gene. These analyses contribute to the understanding of the evolution and phylogeny within this species and assist in the development of improved diagnostics and therapeutics for the treatment of botulism.

  • Arndt JW, Jacobson MJ, Abola EE, Forsyth CM, Tepp WH, Marks JD, Johnson EA, Stevens RC (2006) A structural perspective of the sequence variability within botulinum neurotoxin subtypes A1-A4. J. Mol. Biol. 362(4):733-42 · Pubmed

    Botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) is a category A toxin that has been classified within seven serotypes, designated A-G. Recently, it has been discovered that sequence variability occurs in BoNTs produced by serotype A (BoNT/A) variant strains, designated as subtypes A1 and A2, which have significantly different antibody-binding properties. We have therefore made efforts to understand at the molecular level the diversity and its effects on the biological actions of the toxin, including receptor binding, substrate recognition, and catalysis. We provide the results of these studies, including the analysis of two newly sequenced BoNT/A variants, Loch Maree (A3) and 657Ba (A4), and their comparison to A1 and A2. Using sequence analysis, available functional data, molecular modeling, and comparison of models with the crystal structures of BoNT/A1 and the light chain of BoNT/A2, we conclude that these sequence differences within subtypes will impact development of broad-spectrum antibody and small ligand therapeutics, and suggest dissimilarities in binding affinity and cleavage efficiency of the SNAP-25 substrate. In particular, sequence variation in subtypes BoNT/A3 and BoNT/A4 will likely effect alpha-exosite and S1' subsite recognition, respectively.

  • Baldwin MR, Tepp WH, Pier CL, Bradshaw M, Ho M, Wilson BA, Fritz RB, Johnson EA, Barbieri JT (2005) Characterization of the antibody response to the receptor binding domain of botulinum neurotoxin serotypes A and E. Infect. Immun. 73(10):6998-7005 (PMC1230911) · Pubmed

    Clostridium botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) are the most toxic proteins for humans. The current clostridial-derived vaccines against BoNT intoxication have limitations including production and accessibility. Conditions were established to express the soluble receptor binding domain (heavy-chain receptor [HCR]) of BoNT serotypes A and E in Escherichia coli. Sera isolated from mice and rabbits immunized with recombinant HCR/A1 (rHCR/A1) from the classical type A-Hall strain (ATCC 3502) (BoNT/A1) and rHCR/E from BoNT serotype E Beluga (BoNT/E(B)) neutralized the homologous serotype of BoNT but displayed differences in cross-recognition and cross-protection. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and Western blotting showed that alpha-rHCR/A1 recognized epitopes within the C terminus of the HCR/A and HCR/E, while alpha-rHCR/E recognized epitopes within the N terminus or interface between the N and C termini of the HCR proteins. alpha-rHCR/E(B) sera possessed detectable neutralizing capacity for BoNT/A1, while alpha-rHCR/A1 did not neutralize BoNT/E. rHCR/A was an effective immunogen against BoNT/A1 and the Kyoto F infant strain (BoNT/A2), but not BoNT serotype E Alaska (BoNT/E(A)), while rHCR/E(B) neutralized BoNT/E(A), and under hyperimmunization conditions protected against BoNT/A1 and BoNT/A2. The protection elicited by rHCR/A1 to BoNT/A1 and BoNT/A2 and by rHCR/E(B) to BoNT/E(A) indicate that immunization with receptor binding domains elicit protection within sub-serotypes of BoNT. The protection elicited by hyperimmunization with rHCR/E against BoNT/A suggests the presence of common neutralizing epitopes between the serotypes E and A. These results show that a receptor binding domain subunit vaccine protects against serotype variants of BoNTs.

  • Brehm-Stecher BF, Hyldig-Nielsen JJ, Johnson EA (2005) Design and evaluation of 16S rRNA-targeted peptide nucleic acid probes for whole-cell detection of members of the genus Listeria. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 71(9):5451-7 (PMC1214657) · Pubmed

    Six fluorescein-labeled peptide nucleic acid oligomers targeting Listeria-specific sequences on the 16S ribosomal subunit were evaluated for their abilities to hybridize to whole cells by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). Four of these probes yielded weak or no fluorescent signals after hybridization and were not investigated further. The remaining two FISH-compatible probes, LisUn-3 and LisUn-11, were evaluated for their reactivities against 22 Listeria strains and 17 other bacterial strains belonging to 10 closely related genera. Hybridization with BacUni-1, a domain-specific eubacterial probe, was used as a positive control for target accessibility in both Listeria spp. and nontarget cells. RNase T1 treatment of select cell types was used to confirm that positive fluorescence responses were rRNA dependent and to examine the extent of nonspecific staining of nontarget cells. Both LisUn-3 and LisUn-11 yielded rapid, bright, and genus-specific hybridizations at probe concentrations of approximately 100 pmol ml(-1). LisUn-11 was the brightest probe and stained all six Listeria species. LisUn-3 hybridized with all Listeria spp. except for L. grayi, for which it had two mismatched bases. A simple ethanolic fixation yielded superior results with Listeria spp. compared to fixation in 10% buffered formalin and was applicable to all cell types studied. This study highlights the advantages of peptide nucleic acid probes for FISH-based detection of gram-positive bacteria and provides new tools for the rapid detection of Listeria spp. These probes may be useful for the routine monitoring of food production environments in support of efforts to control L. monocytogenes.

  • Smith TJ, Lou J, Geren IN, Forsyth CM, Tsai R, Laporte SL, Tepp WH, Bradshaw M, Johnson EA, Smith LA, Marks JD (2005) Sequence variation within botulinum neurotoxin serotypes impacts antibody binding and neutralization. Infect. Immun. 73(9):5450-7 (PMC1231122) · Pubmed

    The botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) are category A biothreat agents which have been the focus of intensive efforts to develop vaccines and antibody-based prophylaxis and treatment. Such approaches must take into account the extensive BoNT sequence variability; the seven BoNT serotypes differ by up to 70% at the amino acid level. Here, we have analyzed 49 complete published sequences of BoNTs and show that all toxins also exhibit variability within serotypes ranging between 2.6 and 31.6%. To determine the impact of such sequence differences on immune recognition, we studied the binding and neutralization capacity of six BoNT serotype A (BoNT/A) monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) to BoNT/A1 and BoNT/A2, which differ by 10% at the amino acid level. While all six MAbs bound BoNT/A1 with high affinity, three of the six MAbs showed a marked reduction in binding affinity of 500- to more than 1,000-fold to BoNT/A2 toxin. Binding results predicted in vivo toxin neutralization; MAbs or MAb combinations that potently neutralized A1 toxin but did not bind A2 toxin had minimal neutralizing capacity for A2 toxin. This was most striking for a combination of three binding domain MAbs which together neutralized >40,000 mouse 50% lethal doses (LD(50)s) of A1 toxin but less than 500 LD(50)s of A2 toxin. Combining three MAbs which bound both A1 and A2 toxins potently neutralized both toxins. We conclude that sequence variability exists within all toxin serotypes, and this impacts monoclonal antibody binding and neutralization. Such subtype sequence variability must be accounted for when generating and evaluating diagnostic and therapeutic antibodies.

  • Johnson EA, Tepp WH, Bradshaw M, Gilbert RJ, Cook PE, McIntosh ED (2005) Characterization of Clostridium botulinum strains associated with an infant botulism case in the United Kingdom. J. Clin. Microbiol. 43(6):2602-7 (PMC1151885) · Pubmed

    The sixth case of infant botulism in the United Kingdom was reported in 2001. The case was caused by a type B strain of Clostridium botulinum. Strains of C. botulinum were isolated from the baby's feces and from foodstuffs in the household in an attempt to document transmission. The aims of this study were to characterize the strains of C. botulinum associated with the botulism case. This was performed using a variety of techniques, including C. botulinum culture phenotypic properties, neurotoxin characterization, and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) banding patterns. Cultures associated with this case as well as isolates from stored and historical samples were analyzed and compared. C. botulinum type B PFGE patterns from the infant and from an opened container of infant formula were indistinguishable, while the PFGE profile of a strain presumably isolated from an unopened archival container was unique. The results suggest that the unopened brand of formula was not the source for transmission of spores to the infant and that the strain was distinct from previous botulism cases in the United Kingdom. Since environmental testing was not performed, it is not possible to deduce other sources of transmission.

  • Bradshaw M, Dineen SS, Maks ND, Johnson EA (2004) Regulation of neurotoxin complex expression in Clostridium botulinum strains 62A, Hall A-hyper, and NCTC 2916. Anaerobe 10(6):321-33 · Pubmed

    The kinetics of botulinum toxin gene expression have been investigated in Clostridium botulinum type A strains 62A, Hall A-hyper, and type A(B) strain NCTC 2916 during the growth cycle. The analyses were performed in TPGY and type A Toxin Production Media (TPM). The mRNA transcript levels encoding the proteins of the neurotoxin complex were determined using Northern analyses. Neurotoxin concentrations in culture supernatants and lysed cell pellets were assayed using ELISA, Western blots, and mouse bioassay. Proteolytic activation of botulinum neurotoxin during the growth cycle was evaluated by Western blots. For all three strains, mRNA transcripts for the toxin complex genes were initially detected in early log phase, reached peak levels in early stationary phase, and rapidly decreased in mid-to-late stationary phase and during lysis. Toxin expression varied depending on the strain and growth medium. Toxin production was highest in strain Hall A-hyper, followed by NCTC 2916 and 62A. For C. botulinum strain Hall A-hyper, cell lysis and toxin release into the supernatant occurred rapidly for cells grown in TPM, while cells grown in TPGY remained in stationary phase with minimal lysis and toxin release through 96 h of growth. In contrast, strains 62A and NCTC 2916 lysed more extensively than Hall A-hyper in TPGY. TPM supported higher toxin production and activation than TPGY in strains 62A and Hall A-hyper. These data support that the genes of the botulinum neurotoxin complex are temporally expressed during late-log and early stationary phase and that toxin complex formation depends on the strain and growth medium. Botulinum toxin synthesis and activation appears to be a complex process that is highly regulated by nutritional and environmental conditions. Further research is needed to elucidate the sensing mechanisms and genetic regulatory factors controlling these processes.

  • Dong M, Tepp WH, Johnson EA, Chapman ER (2004) Using fluorescent sensors to detect botulinum neurotoxin activity in vitro and in living cells. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 101(41):14701-6 (PMC522023) · Pubmed

    Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) act as zinc-dependent endopeptidases that cleave proteins required for neurotransmitter release. To detect toxin activity, fragments of the toxin substrate proteins, synaptobrevin (Syb) or synaptosome-associated protein of 25 kDa (SNAP-25), were used to link cyan fluorescent protein (CFP) to yellow fluorescent protein (YFP). Cleavage of these fusion proteins by BoNTs abolished fluorescence resonance energy transfer between the CFP and YFP, providing a sensitive means to detect toxin activity in real-time in vitro. Furthermore, using full-length SNAP-25 and Syb as the linkers, we report two fluorescent biosensors that can detect toxin activity within living cells. Cleavage of the SNAP-25 fusion protein abolished fluorescence resonance energy transfer between CFP and YFP, and cleavage of Syb resulted in spatial redistribution of YFP fluorescence in cells. This approach provides a means to carry out cell-based screening of toxin inhibitors and to study toxin activity in situ. By using these biosensors, we found that the subcellular localizations of SNAP-25 and Syb are critical for efficient cleavage by BoNT/A and B, respectively.

  • Brehm-Stecher BF, Johnson EA (2004) Single-cell microbiology: tools, technologies, and applications. Microbiol. Mol. Biol. Rev. 68(3):538-59, table of contents (PMC515252) · Pubmed

    The field of microbiology has traditionally been concerned with and focused on studies at the population level. Information on how cells respond to their environment, interact with each other, or undergo complex processes such as cellular differentiation or gene expression has been obtained mostly by inference from population-level data. Individual microorganisms, even those in supposedly "clonal" populations, may differ widely from each other in terms of their genetic composition, physiology, biochemistry, or behavior. This genetic and phenotypic heterogeneity has important practical consequences for a number of human interests, including antibiotic or biocide resistance, the productivity and stability of industrial fermentations, the efficacy of food preservatives, and the potential of pathogens to cause disease. New appreciation of the importance of cellular heterogeneity, coupled with recent advances in technology, has driven the development of new tools and techniques for the study of individual microbial cells. Because observations made at the single-cell level are not subject to the "averaging" effects characteristic of bulk-phase, population-level methods, they offer the unique capacity to observe discrete microbiological phenomena unavailable using traditional approaches. As a result, scientists have been able to characterize microorganisms, their activities, and their interactions at unprecedented levels of detail.

  • Baldwin MR, Bradshaw M, Johnson EA, Barbieri JT (2004) The C-terminus of botulinum neurotoxin type A light chain contributes to solubility, catalysis, and stability. Protein Expr. Purif. 37(1):187-95 · Pubmed

    Botulinum neurotoxin type A (BoNT/A) is the etiological agent responsible for botulism, a disease characterized by peripheral neuromuscular blockade. BoNT/A is produced by Clostridium botulinum as a single chain protein that is activated by proteolytic cleavage to form a 50 kDa light chain (LC, 448 amino acids) and a disulfide bond-linked 100 kDa heavy chain (HC, 847 amino acids). Whilst HC comprises the receptor binding and translocation domains, LC is a Zn2+-endopeptidase that cleaves at a single glutaminyl-arginine bond corresponding to residues 197 and 198 at the C-terminus of SNAP25. Cleavage of SNAP25 uncouples the neural exocytosis docking/fusion machinery. LC/A (LC 1-448) and several C-terminal deletion proteins of LC/A were engineered and expressed as His-tagged fusion proteins in Escherichia coli. LC 1-448 was purified, but precipitated upon storage. Approximately 40% of LC 1-448 was a covalent dimer due to the formation of inter-chain disulfide bond formation at Cys430. Conversion of Cys430 to Ser abolished dimer formation of LC 1-448, but did not improve solubility. Three C-terminal deletion peptides were engineered; LC 1-425 and LC 1-418 were expressed and could be purified as soluble and stable proteins, whilst LC 1-398 was soluble, but not stable to storage. Kinetic studies showed that LC 1-448 and LC 1-425 efficiently cleaved GST-SNAP25 and the fluorescent substrate SNAPtide, while LC 1-418 catalyzed the cleavage of both the SNAP25 and the fluorescent substrate SNAPtide with a similar Km, but at a 10-fold slower kcat. Thus, regions within the C-terminus of LC/A contribute to solubility, stability, and catalysis.

  • Glass KA, Johnson EA (2004) Antibotulinal activity of process cheese ingredients. J. Food Prot. 67(8):1765-9 · Pubmed

    Ingredients used in the manufacture of reduced-fat process cheese products were screened for their ability to inhibit growth of Clostridium botulinum serotypes A and B in media. Reinforced clostridial medium (RCM) supplemented with 0, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 5, or 10% (wt/vol) of various ingredients, including a carbohydrate-based fat replacer, an enzyme-modified cheese (EMC) derived from a Blue cheese, sweet whey, modified whey protein, or whey protein concentrate, did not inhibit botulinal growth and toxin production when stored at 30 degrees C for 1 week. In contrast, RCM supplemented with 10% soy-based flavor enhancer, 10% Parmesan EMC, or 5 or 10% Cheddar EMC inhibited botulinal toxin production in media for at least 6 weeks of storage at 30 degrees C. Subsequent trials revealed that the antibotulinal effect varied significantly among 13 lots of EMC and that the antimicrobial effect was not correlated with the pH or water activity of the EMC.

  • Glass KA, Johnson EA (2004) Factors that contribute to the botulinal safety of reduced-fat and fat-free process chesse products. J. Food Prot. 67(8):1687-93 · Pubmed

    The effects of fat, type of natural cheese, and adjunct process cheese ingredients were evaluated to determine factors that contribute to the botulinal safety of reduced-fat (RF) process cheese products stored at 30 degrees C. In the first set of experiments, pasteurized process cheese products (PPCPs) were formulated using full-fat (FF) Cheddar, 30% RF Cheddar, or skim milk (SM) cheese as cheese-base types and were standardized to 59% moisture, pH 5.75, 2.8 or 3.2% total salts, and 15 to 19% fat. Subsequent trials evaluated the effect of fat levels and adjunct ingredients in PPCPs made with SM, RF, and FF cheese (final fat levels, less than 1, 13, and 24%, respectively). When fat levels of PPCPs were comparable (15.1, 19.1, and 16.2 for product manufactured with SC, RE and FF cheese, respectively), botulinal toxin production was delayed for up to 2 days in PPCPs formulated with SM compared with RF or FF cheese; however, the effect was not statistically significant. When fat levels were reduced to less than 1% in SM PPCPs, toxin production was delayed 2 weeks in products made with SM compared with RF or FF cheese manufactured with 13 or 24% fat, respectively. The antibotulinal effect of adjunct ingredients varied among the products manufactured with different fat levels. Sodium lactate significantly delayed toxin production (P < 0.05) for all fat levels tested, whereas beta-glucan fat replacer did not delay toxin production. An enzyme-modified cheese used as a flavor enhancer significantly delayed toxin production (P < 0.05) in SM (less than 1% fat) products but had little to no inhibitory effect in RF (13% fat) and FF (24% fat) cheese products. Similarly, monolaurin increased the time to detectable toxin in SM products but was ineffective in RF or FF cheese products. These results verify that RF PPCPs exhibit greater safety than FF products and that safety may be enhanced by using certain adjunct ingredients as antimicrobials.

  • Puhar A, Johnson EA, Rossetto O, Montecucco C (2004) Comparison of the pH-induced conformational change of different clostridial neurotoxins. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 319(1):66-71 · Pubmed

    Clostridial neurotoxins are internalized inside acidic compartments, wherefrom the catalytic chain translocates across the membrane into the cytosol in a low pH-driven process, reaching its proteolytic substrates. The pH range in which the structural rearrangement of clostridial neurotoxins takes place was determined by 8-anilinonaphthalene-1-sulfonate and tryptophan fluorescence measurements. Half conformational change was attained at pH 4.55, 4.50, 4.40, 4.60, 4.40, and 4.40 for tetanus neurotoxin and botulinum neurotoxin serotypes /A, /B, /C, /E, and /F, respectively. This similarity indicates the key residues for the conformation transition are strongly conserved. Acidic liposomes support the conformational rearrangement shifting the effect versus higher pH values, whereas zwitterionic liposomes do not. The disulfide bridge linking the light and the heavy chains together needs to be oxidized to allow toxin membrane insertion, indicating that in vivo its reduction follows exposure to the cytosol after penetration of the endosomal membrane.

  • Dineen SS, Bradshaw M, Karasek CE, Johnson EA (2004) Nucleotide sequence and transcriptional analysis of the type A2 neurotoxin gene cluster in Clostridium botulinum. FEMS Microbiol. Lett. 235(1):9-16 · Pubmed

    The nucleotide sequences of the upstream regions of the botulinum neurotoxin type A1 (BoNT/A1) cluster of Clostridium botulinum strain NCTC 2916 and the BoNT/A2 cluster of strain Kyoto-F were determined. A novel gene, designated orfx3, was identified following the orfx2 gene in both clusters. ORF-X2 and ORF-X3 exhibit similarity to the BoNT cluster associated P-47 protein. The BoNT/A1 and BoNT/A2 clusters share a similar gene arrangement, but exhibit differences in the spacing between certain genes. Sequences with similarity to transposases were identified in these intergenic regions, suggesting that these differences arose from an ancestral insertion event. Transcriptional analysis of the BoNT/A2 cluster revealed that the genes of the cluster are primarily synthesized as three polycistronic transcripts. Two divergent polycistronic transcripts, one encoding the orfx1, orfx2, and orfx3 genes, the second encoding the p47, ntnh, and bont/a2 genes, are transcribed from conserved BoNT cluster promoters. The third polycistronic transcript, expressed at low levels, encodes the positive regulatory botR gene and the orfx genes. This is the first complete analysis of a botulinum toxin A2 cluster.

  • Echavarri-Erasun C, Johnson EA (2004) Stimulation of astaxanthin formation in the yeast Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous by the fungus Epicoccum nigrum. FEMS Yeast Res. 4(4-5):511-9 · Pubmed

    A fungal contaminant on an agar plate containing colonies of Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous markedly increased carotenoid production by yeast colonies near to the fungal growth. Spent-culture filtrate from growth of the fungus in yeast-malt medium also stimulated carotenoid production by X. dendrorhous. Four X. dendrorhous strains including the wild-type UCD 67-385 (ATCC 24230), AF-1 (albino mutant, ATCC 96816), Yan-1 (beta-carotene mutant, ATCC 96815) and CAX (astaxanthin overproducer mutant) exposed to fungal concentrate extract enhanced astaxanthin up to approximately 40% per unit dry cell weight in the wild-type strain and in CAX. Interestingly, the fungal extract restored astaxanthin biosynthesis in non-astaxanthin-producing mutants previously isolated in our laboratory, including the albino and the beta-carotene mutant. The fungus was identified as Epicoccum nigrum by morphology of sporulating cultures, and the identity confirmed by genetic characterization including rDNA sequencing analysis of the large-subunit (LSU), the internal transcribed spacer, and the D1/D2 region of the LSU. These E. nigrum rDNA sequences were deposited in GenBank under accesssion numbers AF338443, AY093413 and AY093414. Systematic rDNA homology alignments were performed to identify fungi related to E. nigrum. Stimulation of carotenogenesis by E. nigrum and potentially other fungi could provide a novel method to enhance astaxanthin formation in industrial fermentations of X. dendrorhous and Phaffia rhodozyma.

  • Brehm-Stecher BF, Johnson EA (2003) Sensitization of Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli to antibiotics by the sesquiterpenoids nerolidol, farnesol, bisabolol, and apritone. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 47(10):3357-60 (PMC201169) · Pubmed

    The sesquiterpenoids nerolidol, farnesol, bisabolol, and apritone were investigated for their abilities to enhance bacterial permeability and susceptibility to exogenous antimicrobial compounds. Initially, it was observed by flow cytometry that these sesquiterpenoids promoted the intracellular accumulation of the membrane-impermeant nucleic acid stain ethidium bromide by live cells of Lactobacillus fermentum, suggesting that enhanced permeability resulted from disruption of the cytoplasmic membrane. The ability of these sesquiterpenoids to increase bacterial susceptibility to a number of clinically important antibiotics was then investigated. In disk diffusion assays, treatment with low concentrations (0.5 to 2 mM) of nerolidol, bisabolol, or apritone enhanced the susceptibility of Staphylococcus aureus to ciprofloxacin, clindamycin, erythromycin, gentamicin, tetracycline, and vancomycin. Nerolidol and farnesol also sensitized Escherichia coli to polymyxin B. Our results indicate the practical utility of sensitizing bacteria to antimicrobials with sesquiterpenoids that have traditionally been used as flavorants and aroma compounds in the food and perfume industries.

  • Johnson EA, Phaff HJ (2003) Phaffia rhodozyma: colorful odyssey. Int. Microbiol. 6(3):169-74 · Pubmed

    Phaffia rhodozyma was isolated by Herman Phaff in the 1960s, during his pioneering studies of yeast ecology. Initially, the yeast was isolated from limited geographical regions, but isolates were subsequently obtained from Russia, Chile, Finland, and the United States. The biological diversity of the yeast is more extensive than originally envisioned by Phaff and his collaborators, and at least two species appear to exist, including the anamorph Phaffia rhodozyma and the teleomorph Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous. The yeast has attracted considerable biotechnological interest because of its ability to synthesize the economically important carotenoid astaxanthin (3,3'-dihydroxy-beta, beta-carotene-4,4'-dione) as its major pigment. This property has stimulated research on the biology of the yeast as well as development of the yeast as an industrial microorganism for astaxanthin production by fermentation. Our laboratory has isolated several mutants of the yeast affected in carotenogenesis, giving colonies a vivid array of pigmentation. We have found that nutritional and environmental conditions regulate astaxanthin biosynthesis in the yeast, and have demonstrated that astaxanthin protects P. rhodozyma from damage by reactive oxygen species. We proposed in the 1970s that P. rhodozyma could serve as an economically important pigment source in animal diets including salmonids, lobsters, and the egg yolks of chickens and quail, in order to impart characteristic and desirable colors. Although P. rhodozyma/Xanthomyces dendrorhous has been studied by various researchers for nearly 30 years, it still attracts interest from yeast biologists and biotechnologists. There is a bright and colorful outlook for P. rhodozyma/X. dendrorhous from fundamental and applied research perspectives.

  • Dineen SS, Bradshaw M, Johnson EA (2003) Neurotoxin gene clusters in Clostridium botulinum type A strains: sequence comparison and evolutionary implications. Curr. Microbiol. 46(5):345-52 · Pubmed

    The nucleotide sequence of the hemagglutinin ( ha) genes and the transcriptional regulator botR gene were determined in type A Clostridium botulinum strain 62A, and the complete nucleotide sequence of the botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) gene cluster was determined in strain Hall A- hyper. Comparison of the BoNT/A gene clusters revealed only two nucleotide differences between the two strains. The nucleotide sequences of the regions flanking the BoNT clusters were also determined in strains 62A, Hall A- hyper, and type A(B) strain NCTC 2916. The regions upstream of the BoNT/A clusters in the type A strains shared marked homology with the region upstream of the silent BoNT/B cluster in the A(B) strain, indicating a similar evolutionary origin. The region downstream of the BoNT/A cluster in type A strains encodes putative insertion sequence (IS) elements with multiple internal mutations. These IS elements may have played a role in neurotoxin gene transfer within the host genome and to other Clostridium species.

  • Compton SR, Ball-Goodrich LJ, Zeiss CJ, Johnson LK, Johnson EA, Macy JD (2003) Pathogenesis of mouse hepatitis virus infection in gamma interferon-deficient mice is modulated by co-infection with Helicobacter hepaticus. Comp. Med. 53(2):197-206 · Pubmed

    Gamma interferon-deficient (IFN-gamma KO) mice developed a wasting syndrome and were found to be co-infected with Helicobacter sp., and a new isolate of mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) designated MHV-G. The disease was characterized by pleuritis, peritonitis, hepatitis, pneumonia, and meningitis. Initial experiments used a cecal homogenate inoculum from the clinical cases that contained H. hepaticus and MHV-G to reproduce the development of peritonitis and pleuritis in IFN-gamma KO mice. In contrast, immunocompetent mice given the same inoculum developed an acute, self-limiting infection and remained clinically normal. This result confirmed the importance of IFN-gamma in preventing chronic infection and limiting viral dissemination. To understand the role of both agents in the development of peritonitis and pleuritis, IFN-gamma KO mice were infected with either agent or were co-infected with H. hepaticus and MHV-G. Infection with MHV-G induced a multisystemic infection similar to that described in the original cases, with multifocal hepatic necrosis, acute necrotizing and inflammatory lesions of the gastrointestinal tract, and acute peritonitis and pleuritis with adhesions on the serosal surfaces of the viscera. However, mice given H. hepaticus alone had minimal pathologic changes even though the organism was consistently detected in the cecum or feces. Although co-infection with H. hepaticus and MHV-G induced lesions similar to those associated with MHV-G alone, the pathogenesis of the MHV infection was modified. Helicobacter hepaticus appeared to reduce the severity of MHV-induced lesions during the acute phase of infection, and exacerbated hepatitis and meningitis at the later time point. We conclude that infection of IFN-gamma KO mice with MHV-G results in multisystemic infection with peritonitis, pleuritis, and adhesions due to the aberrant immune response in these mice. In addition, co-infection of these mice with H. hepaticus results in alterations in the pathogenesis of MHV-G infection.

  • Peck RF, Johnson EA, Krebs MP (2002) Identification of a lycopene beta-cyclase required for bacteriorhodopsin biogenesis in the archaeon Halobacterium salinarum. J. Bacteriol. 184(11):2889-97 (PMC135044) · Pubmed

    Biogenesis of the light-driven proton pump bacteriorhodopsin in the archaeon Halobacterium salinarum requires coordinate synthesis of the bacterioopsin apoprotein and carotenoid precursors of retinal, which serves as a covalently bound cofactor. As a step towards elucidating the mechanism and regulation of carotenoid metabolism during bacteriorhodopsin biogenesis, we have identified an H. salinarum gene required for conversion of lycopene to beta-carotene, a retinal precursor. The gene, designated crtY, is predicted to encode an integral membrane protein homologous to lycopene beta-cyclases identified in bacteria and fungi. To test crtY function, we constructed H. salinarum strains with in-frame deletions in the gene. In the deletion strains, bacteriorhodopsin, retinal, and beta-carotene were undetectable, whereas lycopene accumulated to high levels ( approximately 1.3 nmol/mg of total cell protein). Heterologous expression of H. salinarum crtY in a lycopene-producing Escherichia coli strain resulted in beta-carotene production. These results indicate that H. salinarum crtY encodes a functional lycopene beta-cyclase required for bacteriorhodopsin biogenesis. Comparative sequence analysis yields a topological model of the protein and provides a plausible evolutionary connection between heterodimeric lycopene cyclases in bacteria and bifunctional lycopene cyclase-phytoene synthases in fungi.

  • Goodnough MC, Oyler G, Fishman PS, Johnson EA, Neale EA, Keller JE, Tepp WH, Clark M, Hartz S, Adler M (2002) Development of a delivery vehicle for intracellular transport of botulinum neurotoxin antagonists. FEBS Lett. 513(2-3):163-8 · Pubmed

    A targeted delivery vehicle (DV) was developed for intracellular transport of emerging botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) antagonists. The DV consisted of the isolated heavy chain (HC) of BoNT/A coupled to a 10-kDa amino dextran via the heterobifunctional linker 3-(2-pyridylthio)-propionyl hydrazide. The HC served to target BoNT-sensitive cells and promote internalization of the complex, while the dextran served as a platform to deliver model therapeutic molecules to the targeted cells. To determine the ability of this chimeric glycoprotein to enter neurons, dextran and HC were labeled independently with the fluorescent dyes Oregon green 488 and Cy3, respectively. Internalization of DV was monitored in primary cortical cells using laser confocal microscopy. Incubation of cells for 24 h with DV resulted in discrete punctate labeling of both soma and processes. The Cy3 and Oregon green 488 signals were generally co-localized, suggesting that the complex remained in the same intracellular compartment during the initial 24 h. The DV-associated fluorescence was reduced progressively by co-application of increasing concentrations of unlabeled BoNT/A holotoxin. The results suggest that the BoNT/A HC is able to mediate internalization of a coupled dextran, even though the latter bears no resemblance to the BoNT/A light chain (LC). The HC of BoNT/A thus offers promise as a selective carrier to deliver BoNT antagonists to the nerve terminal cytoplasm for inhibiting the proteolytic activity of internalized BoNT/A LC.

  • Johnson EA, Bradshaw M (2001) Clostridium botulinum and its neurotoxins: a metabolic and cellular perspective. Toxicon 39(11):1703-22 · Pubmed

    Clostridium botulinum comprises a diverse assemblage of clostridia that have the common property of producing a distinctive protein neurotoxin (BoNT) of similar pharmacological activity and extraordinary potency. BoNTs are produced in culture as molecular complexes consisting of BoNT, hemagglutinin (HA) and associated subcomponent proteins, nontoxic nonhemagglutinin (NTNH), and RNA. The genes encoding the protein components reside as a cluster on the chromosome, on bacteriophages, or on plasmids depending on the C. botulinum serotype. A gene BotR coding for a regulatory protein has been detected in toxin gene clusters from certain strains, as well as ORFs coding for uncharacterized components. The gene encoding TeNT is located on a large plasmid, and expression of the structural gene is controlled by the regulatory gene, TetR, located immediately upstream of the TeNT structural gene. TeNT is not known to be assembled into a protein/nucleic acid complex in culture. Cellular synthesis of BoNT and TeNT have been demonstrated to be positively regulated by the homologous proteins, BotR/A and TetR. Evidence suggests that negative regulatory factors and general control cascades such as those involved in nitrogen regulation and carbon catabolite repression also regulate synthesis of BoNTs. Neurotoxigenic clostridia have attracted considerable attention from scientists and clinicians during the past decade, and many excellent reviews are available on various aspects of these organisms and their neurotoxins. However, certain areas have not been well-studied, including metabolic regulation of toxin formation and genetic tools to study neurotoxigenic clostridia. These topics are the focus of this review.

  • Pariza MW, Johnson EA (2001) Evaluating the safety of microbial enzyme preparations used in food processing: update for a new century. Regul. Toxicol. Pharmacol. 33(2):173-86 · Pubmed

    Microbial enzymes used in food processing are typically sold as enzyme preparations that contain not only a desired enzyme activity but also other metabolites of the production strain, as well as added materials such as preservatives and stabilizers. The added materials must be food grade and meet applicable regulatory standards. The purpose of this report is to present guidelines that can be used to evaluate the safety of the metabolites of the production strain that are also present in the enzyme preparation, including of course, but not limited to, the desired enzyme activity itself. This discussion builds on previously published decision tree mechanisms and includes consideration of new genetic modification technologies, for example, modifying the primary structure of enzymes to enhance specific properties that are commercially useful. The safety of the production strain remains the primary consideration in evaluating enzyme safety, in particular, the toxigenic potential of the production strain. Thoroughly characterized nonpathogenic, nontoxigenic microbial strains, particularly those with a history of safe use in food enzyme manufacture, are logical candidates for generating a safe strain lineage, through which improved strains may be derived via genetic modification by using either traditional/classical or rDNA strain improvement strategies. The elements needed to establish a safe strain lineage include thoroughly characterizing the host organism, determining the safety of all new DNA that has been introduced into the host organism, and ensuring that the procedure(s) that have been used to modify the host organism are appropriate for food use. Enzyme function may be changed by intentionally altering the amino acid sequence (e.g., protein engineering). It may be asked if such modifications might also affect the safety of an otherwise safe enzyme. We consider this question in light of what is known about the natural variation in enzyme structure and function and conclude that it is unlikely that changes which improve upon desired enzyme function will result in the creation of a toxic protein. It is prudent to assess such very small theoretical risks by conducting limited toxicological tests on engineered enzymes. The centerpiece of this report is a decision tree mechanism that updates previous enzyme safety evaluation mechanisms to accommodate advances in enzymology. We have concluded that separate mutagenicity testing is not needed if this decision tree is used to evaluate enzyme safety. Under the criteria of the decision tree, no new food enzyme can enter the market without critical evaluation of its safety.

  • Johnson EA, Evron Y, McCarty RE (2001) Resonance energy transfer between tryptophan 57 in the epsilon subunit and pyrene maleimide labeled gamma subunit of the chloroplast ATP synthase. Biochemistry 40(6):1804-11 · Pubmed

    The intrinsic fluorescence of the catalytic portion of the chloroplast ATP synthase (CF1) is quenched when cysteine 322, the penultimate amino acid of the gamma subunit, is specifically labeled with pyrene maleimide (PM). The epsilon subunit of CF1 contains the only two residues of tryptophan, which dominate the intrinsic fluorescence of unlabeled CF1. CF1 deficient in the epsilon subunit (CF1-epsilon) was reconstituted with mutant epsilon subunits in which phenylalanine replaced tryptophan at position 15 (epsilonW15F) and position 57 (epsilonW15/57F). CF1(epsilonW15F) containing a single tryptophan, epsilonW57, was labeled with PM at gammaC322. Resonance energy transfer (RET) from epsilonW57 to PM on gammaC322 occurred with an efficiency of energy transfer of 20%. RET was also observed from epsilonW57 to PM attached to the disulfide thiols of the gamma subunit (gammaC199,205) with an efficiency of approximately 45%. The R(o) (the distance at which the efficiency of energy transfer is 50%) for the epsilonW57 and PM donor/acceptor pair is 30 A, indicating that both gammaC322 and gammaC199,205 must be within 40 A of epsilonW57. These RET measurements show that both gammaC322 and gammaC199,205 are located near the base of the alpha/beta hexamer. This places the C-terminus of CF1 gamma much closer to epsilon than hypothesized based on homology to crystal structures of mitochondrial F1. These new RET measurements also allow the alignment of the predicted epsilon subunit structure. The orientation is similar to that predicted from cross-linking and mutational studies for the epsilon subunit of Escherichia coli F1.

  • Jacoby RO, Ball-Goodrich L, Paturzo FX, Johnson EA (2001) Prevalence of rat virus infection in progeny of acutely or persistently infected pregnant rats. Comp. Med. 51(1):38-42 · Pubmed

    Infant rats are susceptible to persistent rat virus (RV) infection, but risk of persistent infection after prenatal exposure to virus is unclear. We examined this aspect of RV infection in the progeny of dams inoculated with virus during or prior to pregnancy. Sprague-Dawley (SD) dams were infected during pregnancy (gestation day 9) by oronasal inoculation with 10(5) TCID50 of the UMass strain of RV. SD rats were infected prior to pregnancy by oronasal inoculation of two-day-old females with 10(2) TCID50 of RV-UMass, which induced persistent infection. They were mated to non-immune males after reaching sexual maturity. Rats were assessed for RV infection by virus isolation, in situ hybridization, contact transmission, or serologic testing. The progeny of dams inoculated with virus during gestation had high prevalence of infection through postpartum week 9 (9 of 12 rats were virus positive at week 3, and 7 of 10 were virus positive at week 9). Additionally, 2 of 10 rats were virus positive at least through postpartum week 15. The progeny from persistently infected, seropositive dams had no evidence of infection and did not transmit infection to contact sentinels. However, 12 dams were virus positive at necropsy and 9 had transmitted infection to their breeding partners. These results indicate that prenatal infection in non-immune dams can lead to RV persistence in their progeny. By contrast, the progeny of persistently infected dams are protected from infection, presumably by maternal antibody, although their dams can transmit infection to their breeding partners.

  • Dineen SS, Bradshaw M, Johnson EA (2000) Cloning, nucleotide sequence, and expression of the gene encoding the bacteriocin boticin B from Clostridium botulinum strain 213B. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 66(12):5480-3 (PMC92486) · Pubmed

    Boticin B is a heat-stable bacteriocin produced by Clostridium botulinum strain 213B that has inhibitory activity against various strains of C. botulinum and related clostridia. The gene encoding the bacteriocin was localized to a 3.0-kb HindIII fragment of an 18. 8-kb plasmid, cloned, and sequenced. DNA sequencing revealed the boticin B structural gene, btcB, to be an open reading frame encoding 50 amino acids. A C. botulinum strain 62A transconjugant containing the HindIII fragment inserted into a clostridial shuttle vector expressed boticin B, although at much lower levels than those observed in C. botulinum 213B. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration and characterization of a bacteriocin from toxigenic group I C. botulinum.

  • Jacoby RO, Johnson EA, Paturzo FX, Ball-Goodrich L (2000) Persistent rat virus infection in smooth muscle of euthymic and athymic rats. J. Virol. 74(24):11841-8 (PMC112467) · Pubmed

    Rat virus (RV) infection can cause disease or disrupt responses that rely on cell proliferation. Therefore, persistent infection has the potential to amplify RV interference with research. As a step toward determining underlying mechanisms of persistence, we compared acute and persistent RV infections in infant euthymic and athymic rats inoculated oronasally with the University of Massachusetts strain of RV. Rats were assessed by virus isolation, in situ hybridization, and serology. Selected tissues also were analyzed by Southern blotting or immunohistochemistry. Virus was widely disseminated during acute infection in rats of both phenotypes, whereas vascular smooth muscle cells (SMC) were the primary targets during persistent infection. The prevalence of virus-positive cells remained moderate to high in athymic rats through 8 weeks but decreased in euthymic rats by 2 weeks, coincident with seroconversion and perivascular infiltration of mononuclear cells. Virus-positive pneumocytes and renal tubular epithelial cells also were detected through 8 weeks, implying that kidney and lung excrete virus during persistent infection. Viral mRNA was detected in SMC of both phenotypes through 8 weeks, indicating that persistent infection includes virus replication. However, only half of the SMC containing viral mRNA at 4 weeks stained for proliferating cell nuclear antigen, a protein expressed in cycling cells. The results demonstrate that vasculotropism is a significant feature of persistent infection, that virus replication continues during persistent infection, and that host immunity reduces, but does not eliminate, infection.

  • Malizio CJ, Goodnough MC, Johnson EA (2000) Purification of Clostridium botulinum type A neurotoxin. Methods Mol. Biol. 145:27-39 · Pubmed

    No abstract available.

  • Johnson EA (1999) Clostridial toxins as therapeutic agents: benefits of nature's most toxic proteins. Annu. Rev. Microbiol. 53:551-75 · Pubmed

    Toxins are increasingly being used as valuable tools for analysis of cellular physiology, and some are used medicinally for treatment of human diseases. In particular, botulinum toxin, the most poisonous biological substance known, is used for treatment of a myriad of human neuromuscular disorders characterized by involuntary muscle contractions. Since approval of type-A botulinum toxin by the US Food and Drug Administration in December 1989 for three disorders (strabismus, blepharospasm, and hemifacial spasm), the number of indications being treated has increased greatly to include numerous focal dystonias, spasticity, tremors, cosmetic applications, migraine and tension headaches, and other maladies. Many of these diseases were previously refractory to pharmacological and surgical treatments. The remarkable therapeutic utility of botulinum toxin lies in its ability to specifically and potently inhibit involuntary muscle activity for an extended duration. The clostridia produce more protein toxins than any other bacterial genus and are a rich reservoir of toxins for research and medicinal uses. Research is underway to use clostridial toxins or toxin domains for drug delivery, prevention of food poisoning, and the treatment of cancer and other diseases. The remarkable success of botulinum toxin as a therapeutic agent has created a new field of investigation in microbiology.

  • Larson AE, Johnson EA, Nelson JH (1999) Survival of Listeria monocytogenes in commercial cheese brines. J. Dairy Sci. 82(9):1860-8 · Pubmed

    The survival of Listeria monocytogenes was determined in commercial cheese brines collected from cheese factories in Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Survival of L. monocytogenes inoculated into commercial cheese brines ranged from < 7 d to over 259 d. Survival did not correlate with pH, salt content, nitrogen content, mineral content, or inherent microbial populations but was negatively associated with addition of sodium hypochlorite at the dairy plant. The L. monocytogenes generally survived longer in brines held at 4 degrees C than at 12 degrees C. Sodium hypochlorite or hydrogen peroxide inactivated L. monocytogenes when added to commercial brines in the lab at 10 to 100 ppm or 0.001% to 0.02%, respectively. Addition of 1% potassium sorbate or 1% sodium benzoate also decreased survival of L. monocytogenes. Laboratory filtration of commercial brines had a negative effect on survival in one of three brines tested. The L. monocytogenes did not grow during incubation in any of the commercial brine samples tested.

  • Maksymowych AB, Reinhard M, Malizio CJ, Goodnough MC, Johnson EA, Simpson LL (1999) Pure botulinum neurotoxin is absorbed from the stomach and small intestine and produces peripheral neuromuscular blockade. Infect. Immun. 67(9):4708-12 (PMC96798) · Pubmed

    Clostridium botulinum serotype A produces a neurotoxin composed of a 100-kDa heavy chain and a 50-kDa light chain linked by a disulfide bond. This neurotoxin is part of a ca. 900-kDa complex, formed by noncovalent association with a single nontoxin, nonhemagglutinin subunit and a family of hemagglutinating proteins. Previous work has suggested, although never conclusively demonstrated, that neurotoxin alone cannot survive passage through the stomach and/or cannot be absorbed from the gut without the involvement of auxiliary proteins in the complex. Therefore, this study compared the relative absorption and toxicity of three preparations of neurotoxin in an in vivo mouse model. Equimolar amounts of serotype A complex with hemagglutinins, complex without hemagglutinins, and purified neurotoxin were surgically introduced into the stomach or into the small intestine. In some experiments, movement of neurotoxin from the site of administration was restricted by ligation of the pylorus. Comparison of relative toxicities demonstrated that at adequate doses, complex with hemagglutinins, complex without hemagglutinins, and pure neurotoxin can be absorbed from the stomach. The potency of neurotoxin in complex was greater than that of pure neurotoxin, but the magnitude of this difference diminished as the dosage of neurotoxin increased. Qualitatively similar results were obtained when complex with hemagglutinins, complex without hemagglutinins, and pure neurotoxin were placed directly into the intestine. This work establishes that pure botulinum neurotoxin serotype A is toxic when administered orally. This means that pure neurotoxin does not require hemagglutinins or other auxiliary proteins for absorption from the gastrointestinal system into the general circulation.

  • Larson AE, Johnson EA (1999) Evaluation of botulinal toxin production in packaged fresh-cut cantaloupe and honeydew melons. J. Food Prot. 62(8):948-52 · Pubmed

    The ability of Clostridium botulinum to produce toxin on cubed, packaged melons was investigated relative to microbial spoilage at various incubation temperatures and in different packaging systems. Freshly cut cubes (approximately 2.5 cm3) of cantaloupe and honeydew melons were surface inoculated with a 10 strain mixture of proteolytic and nonproteolytic spores of C. botulinum (10 to 15 cubes per package; approximately 100 total spores per package). To initially evaluate toxin production and spoilage in a passively modified atmosphere, melon cubes were loosely packaged in air in polyethylene pouches, sealed, and incubated at 7 or 15 degrees C for up to 21 days. At various sampling intervals, samples were tested for headspace oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, pH, presence of botulinal toxin, aerobic and anaerobic plate counts, and counts of yeasts and molds. During incubation, headspace oxygen levels decreased, headspace carbon dioxide levels increased, aerobic and anaerobic plate counts increased, and the pH remained constant or decreased slightly. Botulinal toxin was not detected in any cantaloupe samples or in honeydew samples incubated at 7 degrees C. Botulinal toxin was detected in some honeydew samples at 15 degrees C after 9 days of incubation, but the toxic honeydews were severely spoiled and considered organoleptically unacceptable. A similar second experiment was performed in which half of the melon cubes were treated with UV light to inactivate vegetative organisms before packaging, and these were incubated at 7, 15, or 27 degrees C. In this second experiment, toxin production occurred in the UV-treated samples at 15 degrees C with gross spoilage and at 27 degrees C with only marginal spoilage. These data indicate that inhibition of spoilage organisms with UV light could result in botulinal toxin formation in packaged melons before overt spoilage.

  • Glass KA, Kaufman KM, Smith AL, Johnson EA, Chen JH, Hotchkiss J (1999) Toxin production by Clostridium botulinum in pasteurized milk treated with carbon dioxide. J. Food Prot. 62(8):872-6 · Pubmed

    The addition of carbon dioxide to milk at levels of <20 mM inhibits the growth of selected spoilage organisms and extends refrigerated shelf life. Our objective was to determine if the addition of CO2 influenced the risk of botulism from milk. Carbon dioxide was added to pasteurized 2% fat milk at approximately 0, 9.1, or 18.2 mM using a commercial gas-injection system. The milk was inoculated with a 10-strain mixture of proteolytic and nonproteolytic Clostridium botulinum spore strains to yield 10(1) to 10(2) spores/ml. Milk was stored at 6.1 or 21 degrees C for 60 or 6 days, respectively, in sealed glass jars or high-density polyethylene plastic bottles. Milk stored at 21 degrees C curdled and exhibited a yogurt-like odor at 2 days and was putrid at 4 days. Botulinal toxin was detected in 9.1 mM CO2 milk at 4 days and in all treatments after 6 days of storage at 21 degrees C. All toxic samples were grossly spoiled based on sensory evaluation at the time toxin was detected. Although botulinal toxin appeared earlier in milk treated with 9.1 mM CO2 compared to both the 18.2 mM and untreated milk, gross spoilage would act as a deterrent to consumption of toxic milk. No botulinal toxin was detected in any treatment stored at 6.1 degrees C for 60 days. At 6.1 degrees C, the standard plate counts (SPCs) were generally lower in the CO2-treated samples than in controls, with 18.2 mM CO2 milk having the lowest SPC. These data indicate that the low-level addition of CO2 retards spoilage of pasteurized milk at refrigeration temperatures and does not increase the risk of botulism from treated milk stored at refrigeration or abuse temperatures.

  • Bradshaw M, Goodnough MC, Johnson EA (1998) Conjugative transfer of the Escherichia coli-Clostridium perfringens shuttle vector pJIR1457 to Clostridium botulinum type A strains. Plasmid 40(3):233-7 · Pubmed

    An RP4-oriT shuttle vector pJIR1457 originally developed for Clostridium perfringens was successfully transferred by conjugation from Escherichia coli to Clostridium botulinum type A strains and to a nontoxigenic C. botulinum type A-transposon Tn916 mutant strain lacking the entire toxin gene cluster. The light chain (LC) of botulinum toxin was highly expressed in the toxin deletion mutant strain from a pJIR1457 construct containing the recombinant botulinal gene for LC. This shuttle vector system will be valuable for genetic analysis of C. botulinum and will enable genetic manipulation and recombinant expression studies of botulinum neurotoxins as pharmaceutical agents.

  • Angulo FJ, Getz J, Taylor JP, Hendricks KA, Hatheway CL, Barth SS, Solomon HM, Larson AE, Johnson EA, Nickey LN, Ries AA (1998) A large outbreak of botulism: the hazardous baked potato. J. Infect. Dis. 178(1):172-7 · Pubmed

    In April 1994, the largest outbreak of botulism in the United States since 1978 occurred in El Paso, Texas. Thirty persons were affected; 4 required mechanical ventilation. All ate food from a Greek restaurant. The attack rate among persons who ate a potato-based dip was 86% (19/22) compared with 6% (11/176) among persons who did not eat the dip (relative risk [RR] = 13.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 7.6-25.1). The attack rate among persons who ate an eggplant-based dip was 67% (6/9) compared with 13% (241189) among persons who did not (RR = 5.2; 95% CI, 2.9-9.5). Botulism toxin type A was detected from patients and in both dips. Toxin formation resulted from holding aluminum foil-wrapped baked potatoes at room temperature, apparently for several days, before they were used in the dips. Consumers should be informed of the potential hazards caused by holding foil-wrapped potatoes at ambient temperatures after cooking.

  • Shek WR, Paturzo FX, Johnson EA, Hansen GM, Smith AL (1998) Characterization of mouse parvovirus infection among BALB/c mice from an enzootically infected colony. Lab. Anim. Sci. 48(3):294-7 · Pubmed

    No abstract available.

  • Ball-Goodrich LJ, Leland SE, Johnson EA, Paturzo FX, Jacoby RO (1998) Rat parvovirus type 1: the prototype for a new rodent parvovirus serogroup. J. Virol. 72(4):3289-99 (PMC109804) · Pubmed

    A newly recognized parvovirus of laboratory rats, designated rat parvovirus type 1a (RPV-1a), was found to be antigenically distinct. It was cloned, sequenced, and compared with the University of Massachusetts strain of rat virus (RV-UMass) and other autonomous parvoviruses. RPV-1a VP1 identity with these viruses never exceeded 69%, thus explaining its antigenic divergence. In addition, RPV-1a had reduced amino acid identity in NS coding regions (82%), reflecting phylogenetic divergence from other rodent parvoviruses. RPV-1a infection in rats had a predilection for endothelium and lymphoid tissues as previously reported for RV. Infectious RPV-1a was isolated 3 weeks after inoculation of infant rats, suggesting that it, like RV, may result in persistent infection. In contrast to RV, RPV-1a was enterotropic, a characteristic previously associated with parvovirus infections of mice rather than rats. RPV-1a also differed from RV in that infection was nonpathogenic for infant rats under conditions where RV infection causes high morbidity and mortality. Thus, RPV-1a is the prototype virus of an antigenically, genetically, and biologically distinct rodent parvovirus serogroup.

  • Glass KA, Kaufman KM, Johnson EA (1998) Survival of bacterial pathogens in pasteurized process cheese slices stored at 30 degrees C. J. Food Prot. 61(3):290-4 · Pubmed

    Six lots of commercial pasteurized process cheese slices were evaluated for the ability to support the growth of four foodborne pathogens, Listeria monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella serotypes, and Escherichia coli O157:H7, during 4 days of storage at 30 degrees C. Individual cheese slices were inoculated separately with each pathogen to yield ca. 10(3) CFU/g. Slices were packaged in sterile plastic sample bags and stored at 30 degrees C for up to 96 h. Population of Salmonella serotypes and Escherichia coli O157:H7 decreased an average of 1.3 and 2.1 log10 CFU/g, respectively, by 36 h and Salmonella serotypes decreased an additional 0.6 log10 CFU/g during the remaining 60 h. Populations of Listeria monocytogenes also decreased, although to a lesser extent, exhibiting approximately a 0.6-log10 CFU/g reduction in 96 h. Staphylococcus aureus levels remained relatively constant during the testing period, and were below levels that support detectable enterotoxin production. The process cheese slices tested allowed survival but did not support rapid growth of S. aureus, whereas populations of L. monocytogenes, E. coli O157:H7, and Salmonella serotypes decreased during the 96-h storage at 30 degrees C.

  • Johnson EA, Lin WJ, Zhou YT, Bradshaw M (1997) Characterization of neurotoxin mutants in Clostridium botulinum type A. Clin. Infect. Dis. 25 Suppl 2:S168-70 · Pubmed

    No abstract available.

  • Gu WL, An GH, Johnson EA (1997) Ethanol increases carotenoid production in Phaffia rhodozyma. J. Ind. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 19(2):114-7 · Pubmed

    Addition of ethanol (0.2%) to cultures of the yeast Phaffia rhodozyma increased the specific rate of carotenoid production [(carotenoid)(cell mass)-1(time)-1]. The incremental increase in carotenoid synthesis with ethanol was highest in carotenoid-hyperproducing strains. Ethanol increased carotenoid production when it was added at various points during the lag and active growth phases. Ethanol increased alcohol dehydrogenase and hydroxy-methylglutaryl-CoA (HMG-CoA) reductase activities. Our results indicate that increased carotenoid production by ethanol is associated with induction of HMG-CoA reductase and possibly activation of oxidative metabolism.

  • Schantz EJ, Johnson EA (1997) Botulinum toxin: the story of its development for the treatment of human disease. Perspect. Biol. Med. 40(3):317-27 · Pubmed

    No abstract available.

  • Leyer GJ, Johnson EA (1997) Acid adaptation sensitizes Salmonella typhimurium to hypochlorous acid. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 63(2):461-7 (PMC168336) · Pubmed

    Acid adaptation of Salmonella typhimurium at a pH of 5.0 to 5.8 for one to two cell doublings resulted in marked sensitization of the pathogen to halogen-based sanitizers including chlorine (hypochlorous acid) and iodine. Acid-adapted S. typhimurium was more resistant to an anionic acid sanitizer than was its nonadapted counterpart. A nonselective plating medium of tryptose phosphate agar plus 1% pyruvate was used throughout the study to help recover chemically stressed cells. Mechanisms of HOCl-mediated inactivation of acid-adapted and nonadapted salmonellae were investigated. Hypochlorous acid oxidized a higher percentage of cell surface sulfhydryl groups in acid-adapted cells than in nonadapted cells, and sulfhydryl oxidation was correlated with cell inactivation. HOCl caused severe metabolic disruptions in acid-adapted and nonadapted S. typhimurium, such as respiratory loss and inability to restore the adenylate energy charge from a nutrient-starved state. Sensitization of S. typhimurium to hypochlorous acid by acid adaptation also involved increased permeability of the cell surface because nonadapted cells treated with EDTA became sensitized. The results of this study establish that acid-adapted S. typhimurium cells are highly sensitized to HOCl oxidation and that inactivation by HOCl involves changes in membrane permeability, inability to maintain or restore energy charge, and probably oxidation of essential cellular components. This study provides a basis for improved practical technologies to inactivate Salmonella and implies that acid pretreatment of food plant environments may increase the efficacy of halogen sanitizers.

  • Larson AE, Yu RR, Lee OA, Price S, Haas GJ, Johnson EA (1996) Antimicrobial activity of hop extracts against Listeria monocytogenes in media and in food. Int. J. Food Microbiol. 33(2-3):195-207 · Pubmed

    Growth of Listeria monocytogenes was inhibited in culture media and in certain foods by four hop extracts (I-IV) containing varying concentrations of alpha-and beta-acids. Extracts (II and III) containing the highest concentrations of beta-acids were inhibitory at 0.01 mg/l in trypticase soy broth. In food, these hop extracts showed varying magnitudes of inhibition. In coleslaw, hop extract III at 1 mg/g enhanced the rate of inactivation of L. monocytogenes Scott A. Hop extract II was inhibitory at 0.1 and 1 mg/ml in skim and 2% milk, and was inhibitory at 1 mg/ml in whole milk. Hop extract II was listericidal in cottage cheese at 0.1 to 3 g/kg. No inhibition of L. monocytogenes by hop extract III was observed in Camembert cheese. Overall, the antimicrobial activity of hop extracts in food appeared to increase with acidity and lower fat content. Our results indicate that hop extracts could be used to control L. monocytogenes in minimally processed food with low fat content.

  • Hutson RA, Zhou Y, Collins MD, Johnson EA, Hatheway CL, Sugiyama H (1996) Genetic characterization of Clostridium botulinum type A containing silent type B neurotoxin gene sequences. J. Biol. Chem. 271(18):10786-92 · Pubmed

    A recent study detected genes encoding type B botulinum neurotoxin in some type A strains of Clostridium botulinum that exhibit no type B toxin activity. In this study, we investigated the presence, structure, linkage, and organization of genes encoding botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) and other components of the progenitor complex. Sequence analysis showed that the silent BoNT/B gene is highly related to that from authentic proteolytic type B C. botulinum. However, a stop signal and deletions were found within the sequence. A non-toxin nonhemagglutinin gene (NTNH) was mapped immediately upstream of both the BoNT/A and silent BoNT/B genes. Significantly the NTNH gene adjacent to the defective BoNT/B gene was "chimeric, " the 5'- and 3'-regions of the gene had high homology with corresponding regions of the type B NTNH gene, while the 471-amino acid sequence in the central region was identical to NTNH of type A. Hemagglutinin genes HA-33 and HA-II were not found adjacent to the NTNH/A gene, but instead there was an unidentified open reading frame previously reported in strains of C. botulinum types E and F. By contrast HA-II, HA-33, and NTNH genes were located immediately upstream of the silent BoNT/B gene. Pulsed-field gel electrophoretic analysis of chromosomal DNA digests indicated the distance between type A and B gene clusters to be less than 40 kilobases.

  • Johnson EA, Schroeder WA (1996) Microbial carotenoids. Adv. Biochem. Eng. Biotechnol. 53:119-78 · Pubmed

    Carotenoids occur universally in photosynthetic organisms but sporadically in nonphotosynthetic bacteria and eukaryotes. The primordial carotenogenic organisms were cyanobacteria and eubacteria that carried out anoxygenic photosynthesis. The phylogeny of carotenogenic organisms is evaluated to describe groups of organisms which could serve as sources of carotenoids. Terrestrial plants, green algae, and red algae acquired stable endosymbionts (probably cyanobacteria) and have a predictable complement of carotenoids compared to prokaryotes, other algae, and higher fungi which have a more diverse array of pigments. Although carotenoids are not synthesized by animals, they are becoming known for their important role in protecting against damage by singlet oxygen and preventing chronic diseases in humans. The growth of aquaculture during the past decade as well as the biological roles of carotenoids in human disease will increase the demand for carotenoids. Microbial synthesis offers a promising method for production of carotenoids.

  • Lin WJ, Johnson EA (1995) Genome analysis of Clostridium botulinum type A by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 61(12):4441-7 (PMC167752) · Pubmed

    Genomic DNA from type A Clostridium botulinum was digested with restriction endonucleases that cut at rare sites, and the large fragments were separated by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. Of 15 restriction enzymes tested, MluI, RsrII, SmaI, NruI, KspI, NaeI, and XhoI generated satisfactory digestion patterns of genomic DNA of various C. botulinum strains, enabling the use of the method for genomic fingerprinting. The genomes of four group I (type A) C. botulinum strains examined had similar restriction patterns. However, each strain had unique digestion patterns, reflecting genotypic differences. The genome size of C. botulinum strain 62A was estimated to be 4,039 +/- 40 kbp from the summation of restriction fragments from MluI, RsrII, and SmaI digestions. Genes encoding proteins involved in the toxinogenicity of C. botulinum, including neurotoxin, hemagglutinin A, and genes for a temperate phage, as well as various transposon Tn916 insertion sites in C. botulinum 62A, were mapped by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. The genes encoding neurotoxin and hemagglutinin A-1, were located on the same fragment in several cases, indicating their probable physical linkage. The macrorestriction analysis established here should be useful for genetic and epidemiological studies of C. botulinum.

  • Leyer GJ, Wang LL, Johnson EA (1995) Acid adaptation of Escherichia coli O157:H7 increases survival in acidic foods. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 61(10):3752-5 (PMC167674) · Pubmed

    Escherichia coli O157:H7 was adapted to acid by culturing for one to two doublings at pH 5.0. Acid-adapted cells had an increased resistance to lactic acid, survived better than nonadapted cells during a sausage fermentation, and showed enhanced survival in shredded dry salami (pH 5.0) and apple cider (pH 3.4). Acid adaptation is important for the survival of E. coli O157:H7 in acidic foods and should be considered a prerequisite for inocula used in food challenge studies.

  • Schroeder WA, Johnson EA (1995) Singlet oxygen and peroxyl radicals regulate carotenoid biosynthesis in Phaffia rhodozyma. J. Biol. Chem. 270(31):18374-9 · Pubmed

    Carotenoids have recently received considerable interest because of their potential in delaying or preventing degenerative diseases such as arteriosclerosis, cancer, and aging. In this study we show that the active oxygen species singlet oxygen (1O2) and peroxyl radicals differently affect carotenoid composition and biosynthesis in the yeast Phaffia rhodozyma. Photochemical generation of 1O2 with rose bengal or alpha-terthienyl induced carotenoid accumulation. In contrast, peroxyl radicals derived from t-butylhydroperoxide (tBOOH) or H2O2 decreased the content of astaxanthin and increased beta-carotene by approximately 4-fold, suggesting end product feedback regulation by astaxanthin or inhibition of biosynthetic enzymes. 14C labeling of carotenoids during oxidative stress supported the possibility of end product regulation. Carotenoids were bleached by 8 mM tBOOH within 6 h when carotenogenesis was inhibited by thymol. When treated with peroxides, a previously unreported pigment in P. rhodozyma was formed. The carotenoid had a mass of 580 Da and a molecular formula of C40H52O3. Chemical derivatizations combined with mass and absorbance spectroscopy tentatively identified the carotenoid as dehydroflexixanthin (3,1'-dihydroxy-2,3,3',4'-tetradehydro-1',2'-dihydro-beta,psi-caro tene-4-one). This study provides the first report of induction of astaxanthin biosynthesis by 1O2, probable feedback control by astaxanthin, and the oxidative degradation of astaxanthin to novel pigments in P. rhodozyma.

  • Jacoby RO, Johnson EA, Ball-Goodrich L, Smith AL, McKisic MD (1995) Characterization of mouse parvovirus infection by in situ hybridization. J. Virol. 69(6):3915-9 (PMC189117) · Pubmed

    Infection of young adult BALB/cByJ mice with mouse parvovirus-1, a newly recognized, lymphocytotropic, nonpathogenic parvovirus, was examined by in situ hybridization. Virus appeared to enter through the small intestine and was disseminated to the liver and lymphoid tissues. Strand-specific probes detected virion DNA in a consistently larger number of cells than replicative forms of viral DNA and/or viral mRNA. The number of signal-positive cells in the intestinal mucosa, lymph nodes, spleen, and thymus increased through day 10 after oral inoculation but decreased after seroconversion. Positive cells were still detected, however, in peripheral lymphoid tissues of mice examined at 9 weeks postinoculation. The results underscore the need to assess potential effects of persistent mouse parvovirus-1 infection on immune function in mice.

  • Gaertner DJ, Jacoby RO, Johnson EA, Paturzo FX, Smith AL (1995) Persistent rat virus infection in juvenile athymic rats and its modulation by immune serum. Lab. Anim. Sci. 45(3):249-53 · Pubmed

    In contrast to euthymic juvenile rats, which develop acute, self-limiting infection with rat virus (RV), RV infection of juvenile athymic rats was persistent for up to 12 weeks as demonstrated by recovery of infective virus, transmission to cagemates, and detection of viral DNA in the lungs. Administration of RV antiserum at the time of virus inoculation prevented persistent infection in five of six rats. Among rats given RV antiserum 1 week after virus, the interval at which euthymic rats begin to seroconvert, RV was not detected 1 week later but was recovered from four of six rats 3 weeks later. Results of these studies confirm that T-cell deficiency facilitates persistent RV infection and indicate that antibody provides significant protection from persistent infection only if it is present at the time of virus inoculation. The results support the concept that factors which prevent persistent infection in euthymic rats act early after virus inoculation and may include cellular immunity.

  • Zhou Y, Sugiyama H, Nakano H, Johnson EA (1995) The genes for the Clostridium botulinum type G toxin complex are on a plasmid. Infect. Immun. 63(5):2087-91 (PMC173270) · Pubmed

    Clostridium botulinum type G produces a toxin complex that is composed of neurotoxin, hemagglutinin, and nontoxic nonhemagglutinin. The three genes encoding these proteins were closely linked on a plasmid of about 114 kb (76 MDa) but not on chromosomal DNA. In contrast to the genes of other C. botulinum serotypes, the genes encoding type G toxin are on a plasmid.

  • Kihm DJ, Leyer GJ, An GH, Johnson EA (1994) Sensitization of heat-treated Listeria monocytogenes to added lysozyme in milk. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 60(10):3854-61 (PMC201895) · Pubmed

    Listeria monocytogenes was highly resistant to hen egg white lysozyme in whole milk but was sensitive in media and in phosphate buffer. Methods to sensitize the pathogen to lysozyme in milk were investigated. Treatment of whole milk by cation exchange to remove minerals, particularly Ca2+ and Mg2+, slightly promoted inactivation of L. monocytogenes by lysozyme at 4 degrees C over a period of 6 days. Heat treatment (62.5 degrees C for 15 s) strongly sensitized L. monocytogenes to lysozyme in demineralized milk and in MES [2-(N-morpholino)ethanesulfonic acid] buffer. Addition of Ca2+ or Mg2+ to the demineralized milk restored resistance to lysozyme. Cells were more rapidly heat inactivated at 55 degrees C in demineralized milk containing lysozyme, and addition of Ca2+ to the demineralized milk restored the resistance to heat. The results indicate that minerals or mineral-associated components protect L. monocytogenes from inactivation by lysozyme and heat in milk, probably by increasing cell surface stability. The heat treatment of foods containing added lysozyme can probably play a significant role in producing microbiologically safe foods.

  • Zhou Y, Sugiyama H, Johnson EA (1993) Transfer of neurotoxigenicity from Clostridium butyricum to a nontoxigenic Clostridium botulinum type E-like strain. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 59(11):3825-31 (PMC182537) · Pubmed

    Two Clostridium butyricum strains from infant botulism cases produce a toxic molecule very similar to C. botulinum type E neurotoxin. Chromosomal, plasmid, and bacteriophage DNAs of toxigenic and nontoxigenic strains of C. butyricum and C. botulinum type E were probed with (i) a synthesized 30-mer oligonucleotide encoding part of the L chain of type E botulinum toxin and (ii) the DNA of phages lysogenizing these cultures. The toxin gene probe hybridized to the chromosomal DNA of toxigenic strains but not to their plasmid DNA. All toxigenic and most nontoxigenic strains tested were lysogenized by a prophage on the chromosome. Prophages of toxigenic strains, irrespective of species, had related or identical DNAs which differed from the DNAs of prophages in nontoxigenic strains. The prophage of toxigenic strains was adjacent or close to the toxin gene on the chromosome. Phage DNAs purified from toxigenic strains did not hybridize with the toxin gene probe but could act as the template of the polymerase chain reaction to amplify the toxin gene. The toxin gene was not transferred between C. botulinum and C. butyricum (either direction) when different pairs of a possible gene donor and a recipient strain were grown as mixed cultures. Nontoxigenic C. butyricum or C. botulinum type E-like strains did not become toxigenic when grown in broth containing the phage induced from a toxigenic strain of the other species.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

  • Goodnough MC, Hammer B, Sugiyama H, Johnson EA (1993) Colony immunoblot assay of botulinal toxin. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 59(7):2339-42 (PMC182282) · Pubmed

    Botulinal neurotoxin in and around colonies of Clostridium botulinum types A, B, and E and of toxigenic Clostridium butyricum was detected by an enzyme-linked immunoassay procedure whereby the toxin was transferred from the agar medium to a nitrocellulose support and the immobilized toxin was probed with type-specific antibodies. The method identified the toxin types of the colonies grown from a mixed inoculum of C. botulinum serotypes. The specificity of the antitoxins for type A and B toxins was improved by adsorption of the antitoxins with the antigens of heterologous type cultures.

  • Leyer GJ, Johnson EA (1993) Acid adaptation induces cross-protection against environmental stresses in Salmonella typhimurium. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 59(6):1842-7 (PMC182170) · Pubmed

    The relationship of acid adaptation to tolerance of other environmental stresses was examined in Salmonella typhimurium. S. typhimurium was adapted to acid by exposing the cells to mildly acidic conditions (pH 5.8) for one to two cell doublings. Acid-adapted cells were found to have increased tolerance towards various stresses including heat, salt, an activated lactoperoxidase system, and the surface-active agents crystal violet and polymyxin B. Acid adaptation increased cell surface hydrophobicity. Specific outer membrane proteins were induced by acid adaptation, but the lipopolysaccharide component appeared to be unaltered. These results show that acid adaptation alters cellular resistance to a variety of environmental stresses. The mechanism of acid-induced cross-protection involved changes in cell surface properties in addition to the known enhancement of intracellular pH homeostasis.

  • Smith AL, Jacoby RO, Johnson EA, Paturzo F, Bhatt PN (1993) In vivo studies with an "orphan" parvovirus of mice. Lab. Anim. Sci. 43(2):175-82 · Pubmed

    A virus antigenically related to, but distinct from, minute virus of mice was assessed for infectivity in neonatal and weanling random-bred mice and was equally infectious for both age groups. The virus, designated a mouse "orphan" parvovirus (OPV), was also localized in tissues of experimentally infected random-bred, inbred, and immunodeficient mice by in situ hybridization. Hybridization signal was seen in exocrine and endocrine pancreas, abdominal lymph nodes, mesentery, intestine, and sporadically in other tissues of Sencar, C3H, and DBA mice inoculated as infants. In adult BALB/c severe combined immunodeficient (scid) mice, signal was seen in lung, liver, spleen, lymph nodes, and intestine but not in pancreas. Transmission of OPV by Sencar mice inoculated as infants was intermittent, whereas transmission by Sencar mice inoculated as weanlings was consistent during the first 2 weeks both by direct contact and by exposure to soiled bedding. The longest duration of transmission was 6 weeks among mice inoculated as infants. The results implicate a role for urinary, fecal, and perhaps respiratory excretion of virus, depending on host genotype and route of virus exposure. They also suggest that evaluation of pancreatic and immune function during acute infection is warranted.

  • Gaertner DJ, Jacoby RO, Johnson EA, Paturzo FX, Smith AL, Brandsma JL (1993) Characterization of acute rat parvovirus infection by in situ hybridization. Virus Res. 28(1):1-18 · Pubmed

    In situ hybridization and virus titration were used to characterize early stages of rat virus (RV) infection of rat pups after oronasal inoculation. Results suggest that virus enters through the lung and that early viremia leads rapidly to pantropic infection. Cells derived from all three germ layers were infected with RV, but those of endodermal and mesodermal origin were the predominant targets. Infection of vascular endothelium was widespread and was associated with hemorrhage and infarction in the brain. Convalescence from acute infection was accompanied by mononuclear cell infiltrates at sites containing RV DNA. Viral DNA was also detected in endothelium, fibroblasts and smooth muscle myofibers four weeks after inoculation. Further examination of these cells as potential sites of persistent infection is warranted.

  • Goodnough MC, Johnson EA (1992) Stabilization of botulinum toxin type A during lyophilization. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 58(10):3426-8 (PMC183118) · Pubmed

    Botulinum toxin for medical use is diluted to very low concentrations (nanograms per milliliter); when it is preserved by lyophilization, considerable loss of activity can occur. In the present study, conditions that gave > 90% recovery of the toxicity after lyophilization of solutions containing 20 to 1,000 mouse 50% lethal doses per ml were found. Toxicity was recovered upon drying 0.1 ml of toxin solution when the pH was maintained below 7 and bovine or human serum albumins were used as stabilizers. Various other substances tested with albumin, including glucose, sucrose, trehalose, mannitol, glycine, and cellibiose, did not increase recovery on drying.

  • Patterson-Curtis SI, Johnson EA (1992) Roles of arginine in growth of Clostridium botulinum Okra B. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 58(7):2334-7 (PMC195778) · Pubmed

    Group I strains of Clostridium botulinum are known to degrade arginine by the arginine deiminase pathway. We have found that C. botulinum Okra B consumed a level of arginine (20 g/liter) higher than the basal requirement for growth (3 g/liter). Arginine was probably the preferred source of nitrogen for biosynthesis but did not serve as a major source of energy. Citrulline and proline were produced as major fermentation products in media containing high levels of arginine, but in media with basal amounts of arginine these products were produced in lower quantities during growth and were later reassimilated. The results indicate that C. botulinum Okra B changes its metabolism during consumption of surplus arginine, and this change is associated with toxin repression, formation of citrulline and proline as end products, and possibly resistance to environmental stresses such as increased acidity and osmolarity.

  • Leyer GJ, Johnson EA (1992) Acid adaptation promotes survival of Salmonella spp. in cheese. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 58(6):2075-80 (PMC195729) · Pubmed

    Salmonella typhimurium was adapted to acid by exposure to hydrochloric acid at pH 5.8 for one to two doublings. Acid-adapted cells had increased resistance to inactivation by organic acids commonly present in cheese, including lactic, propionic, and acetic acids. Recovery of cells during the treatment with organic acids was increased 1,000-fold by inclusion of 0.1% sodium pyruvate in the recovery medium. Acid-adapted S. typhimurium cells survived better than nonadapted cells during a milk fermentation by a lactic acid culture. Acid-adapted cells also showed enhanced survival over a period of two months in cheddar, Swiss, and mozzarella cheeses kept at 5 degrees C. Acid adaptation was found in Salmonella spp., including Salmonella enteritidis, Salmonella choleraesuis subsp. choleraesuis serotype heidelberg, and Salmonella choleraesuis subsp. choleraesuis serotype javiana, associated with food poisoning. These observations support the theory that acid adaptation is an important survival mechanism enabling Salmonella spp. to persist in fermented dairy products and possibly other acidic food products.

  • Schantz EJ, Johnson EA (1992) Properties and use of botulinum toxin and other microbial neurotoxins in medicine. Microbiol. Rev. 56(1):80-99 (PMC372855) · Pubmed

    Crystalline botulinum toxin type A was licensed in December 1989 by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of certain spasmodic muscle disorders following 10 or more years of experimental treatment on human volunteers. Botulinum toxin exerts its action on a muscle indirectly by blocking the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine at the nerve ending, resulting in reduced muscle activity or paralysis. The injection of only nanogram quantities (1 ng = 30 mouse 50% lethal doses [U]) of the toxin into a spastic muscle is required to bring about the desired muscle control. The type A toxin produced in anaerobic culture and purified in crystalline form has a specific toxicity in mice of 3 x 10(7) U/mg. The crystalline toxin is a high-molecular-weight protein of 900,000 Mr and is composed of two molecules of neurotoxin (ca. 150,000 Mr) noncovalently bound to nontoxic proteins that play an important role in the stability of the toxic unit and its effective toxicity. Because the toxin is administered by injection directly into neuromuscular tissue, the methods of culturing and purification are vital. Its chemical, physical, and biological properties as applied to its use in medicine are described. Dilution and drying of the toxin for dispensing causes some detoxification, and the mouse assay is the only means of evaluation for human treatment. Other microbial neurotoxins may have uses in medicine; these include serotypes of botulinum toxins and tetanus toxin. Certain neurotoxins produced by dinoflagellates, including saxitoxin and tetrodotoxin, cause muscle paralysis through their effect on the action potential at the voltage-gated sodium channel. Saxitoxin used with anaesthetics lengthens the effect of the anaesthetic and may enhance the effectiveness of other medical drugs. Combining toxins with drugs could increase their effectiveness in treatment of human disease.

  • Wang LL, Johnson EA (1992) Inhibition of Listeria monocytogenes by fatty acids and monoglycerides. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 58(2):624-9 (PMC195293) · Pubmed

    Fatty acids and monoglycerides were evaluated in brain heart infusion broth and in milk for antimicrobial activity against the Scott A strain of Listeria monocytogenes. C12:0, C18:3, and glyceryl monolaurate (monolaurin) had the strongest activity in brain heart infusion broth and were bactericidal at 10 to 20 micrograms/ml, whereas potassium (K)-conjugated linoleic acids and C18:2 were bactericidal at 50 to 200 micrograms/ml. C14:0, C16:0, C18:0, C18:1, glyceryl monomyristate, and glyceryl monopalmitate were not inhibitory at 200 micrograms/ml. The bactericidal activity in brain heart infusion broth was higher at pH 5 than at pH 6. In whole milk and skim milk, K-conjugated linoleic acid was bacteriostatic and prolonged the lag phase especially at 4 degrees C. Monolaurin inactivated L. monocytogenes in skim milk at 4 degrees C, but was less inhibitory at 23 degrees C. Monolaurin did not inhibit L. monocytogenes in whole milk because of the higher fat content. Other fatty acids tested were not effective in whole or skim milk. Our results suggest that K-conjugated linoleic acids or monolaurin could be used as an inhibitory agent against L. monocytogenes in dairy foods.

  • Premaratne RJ, Lin WJ, Johnson EA (1991) Development of an improved chemically defined minimal medium for Listeria monocytogenes. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 57(10):3046-8 (PMC183920) · Pubmed

    A chemically defined minimal medium for Listeria monocytogenes has been developed by modification of Welshimer's medium. The growth factors required by L. monocytogenes Scott A are leucine, isoleucine, arginine, methionine, valine, cysteine (each at 100 mg/liter), riboflavin and biotin (each at 0.5 micrograms/ml), thiamine (1.0 micrograms/ml), and thioctic acid (0.005 micrograms/ml). Growth was stimulated by 20 micrograms of Fe3+ per ml as ferric citrate. Glucose (1%) and glutamine (600 mg/liter) are required as primary sources of carbon and nitrogen. Glucose could not be replaced by various organic acids or amino acids. Of several sugars tested, fructose, mannose, cellobiose, trehalose, maltose (weak), glycerol (weak), and the amino sugars glucosamine, N-acetylglucosamine, and N-acetylmuramic acid supported growth in the absence of glucose. Evidence was found that chitin and cell walls of starter bacteria (Lactococcus lactis) supported survival of L. monocytogenes, which suggests that the pathogen may obtain carbon and energy sources during colonization of some foods, such as cheeses, by assimilating bacteria or molds that are present.

  • Lin WJ, Johnson EA (1991) Transposon Tn916 mutagenesis in Clostridium botulinum. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 57(10):2946-50 (PMC183902) · Pubmed

    The study of toxinogenesis and other properties in Clostridium botulinum is limited by the absence of genetic methods that enable construction of defined mutants. In this study, tetracycline-resistant transposon Tn916 in Enterococcus faecalis was conjugatively transferred in filter matings to group I Clostridium botulinum strains Hall A and 113B. The Tn916 transfer frequencies to C. botulinum ranged from 10(-8) to 10(-5) Tcr transconjugant per recipient depending on the donor strain. Southern blot analyses of EcoRI or HindIII chromosomal digests extracted from randomly selected Tcr transconjugants showed that the transposon inserted at different sites in the recipient chromosome, and the copy number of Tn916 varied from one to three. Tn916 insertion gave several different auxotrophic mutants. This approach should be useful for the study of genes important in growth, survival, and toxinogenesis in C. botulinum.

  • Brownstein DG, Smith AL, Jacoby RO, Johnson EA, Hansen G, Tattersall P (1991) Pathogenesis of infection with a virulent allotropic variant of minute virus of mice and regulation by host genotype. Lab. Invest. 65(3):357-64 · Pubmed

    Neonates of various inbred strains of mice expressed three susceptibility phenotypes in response to infection with the lymphocyte-specific variant of minute virus of mice (MVMi). MVMi caused asymptomatic infections in C57BL/6 (B6) mice, lethal infections with intestinal hemorrhage in DBA/2 mice, and lethal infections with renal papillary hemorrhage in BALB/c, SWR, SJL, CBA, and C3H (H) mice. Sequential virus titration, histology, in situ hybridization with a full-length MVMi genomic probe, and immunohistochemistry for viral capsid antigen were used to compare the pathogenesis of MVMi infection in B6 and H mice. Peak infectious virus titers in heart, lung, liver, spleen, kidney and intestine did not differ between strains but brains of B6 mice, unlike H mice, were refractory to infection. Lesions in H mice consisted of renal papillary infarcts and accelerated involution of hepatic erythropoietic foci. No lesions were seen in B6 mice. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry indicated that three cell types were primary targets of MVMi; endothelium, lymphocytes, and hepatic erythropoietic precursors. Renal papillary infarcts in H mice were associated with virus replication in endothelial nuclei of the vasa recta. In contrast to the parity of infectious virus titers between strains, fewer cells in target organs of B6 mice were labeled with the MVMi probe then were labeled in H mice and fewer cells expressed viral capsid antigen. These results indicate (a) that the allotropic variants of minute virus of mice may be useful tools to dissect molecular mechanisms of parvovirus virulence, (b) that the virulence of MVMi for neonatal mice does not reside in its lymphotropism, and (c) that genetic susceptibility to lethal MVMi infection may result from overproduction of noninfectious virus products.

  • Gaertner DJ, Jacoby RO, Paturzo FX, Johnson EA, Brandsma JL, Smith AL (1991) Modulation of lethal and persistent rat parvovirus infection by antibody. Arch. Virol. 118(1-2):1-9 · Pubmed

    Two day-old athymic (rnu/rnu) and euthymic (rnu/+) rat pups nursing immune or non-immune dams were inoculated oronasally with the Yale strain of rat virus (RV-Y). All athymic and euthymic pups (57/57) from immune dams remained clinically normal, whereas 51 of 66 athymic and euthymic pups from non-immune dams died within 30 days. Infectious RV was detected by explant culture in 12 of 15 surviving pups of both genotypes from non-immune dams 30 days after inoculation, but in none of the 57 surviving pups from immune dams. RV-Y DNA was detected by Southern blotting in kidneys of surviving athymic pups from non-immune dams but was not detected in pups from immune dams. Euthymic pups from immune dams appeared not to produce endogenous antibody to RV after virus challenge, whereas euthymic pups from non-immune dams produced high-titered RV immune serum. Pups of both genotypes given immune serum prior to or with RV were fully protected from disease and persistent infection, whereas pups given immune serum 24 hours after RV were partially protected. These studies show that RV antibody offers significant protection against lethal and persistent RV infection.

  • Brandsma JL, Yang ZH, Barthold SW, Johnson EA (1991) Use of a rapid, efficient inoculation method to induce papillomas by cottontail rabbit papillomavirus DNA shows that the E7 gene is required. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 88(11):4816-20 (PMC51757) · Pubmed

    A simple inoculation method to induce papillomas efficiently with cottontail rabbit papillomavirus (CRPV) DNA is described. Using a jet injector, recombinant CRPV DNA is easily delivered to 100 or more sites per rabbit and induces typical epithelial papillomas in approximately 50% of those sites. Papillomas begin to form by 3 weeks and continue to develop for up to 7 weeks, a pattern similar to that reported following infection with intact virus. This system readily lends itself to investigation of viral gene function by delivering mutant viral genomes into an immunologically intact host. Two mutations in the E7 open reading frame were introduced into the complete CRPV genome and analyzed by this method. One was a frameshift mutation encoding just nine amino-terminal amino acids of the E7 protein; the other was an in-frame insertion mutation at position 9. Both E7 mutations were in a region of homology to the 300-kDa protein binding domain of adenovirus E1A protein. Neither mutant construct was able to induce papillomas, thereby demonstrating that the E7 gene participates in this biologic function. Exploitation of this approach, which demonstrates that a papillomavirus E7 gene is involved in the induction of papillomas in vivo, should permit detailed studies into molecular mechanisms involved in papilloma induction, malignant conversion, and host immune response. The high efficiency of papilloma induction with recombinant CRPV DNA suggests that the jet injector can also be used to study the biologic effects of other genetic elements in rabbits or in other species.

  • Jacoby RO, Johnson EA, Paturzo FX, Gaertner DJ, Brandsma JL, Smith AL (1991) Persistent rat parvovirus infection in individually housed rats. Arch. Virol. 117(3-4):193-205 · Pubmed

    The duration of infection with rat virus (RV), an autonomous rodent parvovirus, was examined at multiple intervals over 6 months in rats inoculated by the oronasal route at 2 days of age or 4 weeks of age and individually housed after weaning to prevent cross-infection. Infectious virus was recovered by explant culture from 32 of 80 rats inoculated as pups and was detected as late as 6 months after inoculation. Rats inoculated as juveniles developed acute infection, but virus was not detected beyond 7 weeks after inoculation. Tissues from rats in both age groups were surveyed for RV DNA by Southern blotting using a double-stranded DNA probe made from a 1700 bp cloned fragment of RV spanning map units 0.19-0.52. Band patterns representative of acute infection (juvenile rats) were consistent with the replicating form of RV DNA, whereas patterns representative of persistent infection (rats inoculated as pups) were suggestive of defective or non-productive viral replication.

  • Goodnough MC, Johnson EA (1991) Control of Salmonella enteritidis infections in poultry by polymyxin B and trimethoprim. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 57(3):785-8 (PMC182795) · Pubmed

    Antimicrobial compounds were screened in vitro in Trypticase soy broth for antimicrobial activity against a virulent strain of Salmonella enteritidis. Of the several compounds tested, polymyxin B showed the strongest inhibition in vitro, preventing growth at a concentration of less than or equal to 10 micrograms/ml. Polymyxin B administered in the drinking water was effective in vivo for preventing infections in 1-day-old chickens but did not remove established infections in 1-week-old chickens. It was found that trimethoprim, which was not active in vitro, prevented colonization and removed existing infections in 1-day-old chickens when it was administered together with polymyxin B sulfate. Enrichment cultures in which selenite-cystine and tetrathionate broth media were used showed that chickens given a combination of 100 micrograms of polymyxin B sulfate per ml and 250 micrograms of trimethoprim per ml 24 h prior to oral inoculation with 10(8) to 10(9) CFU were negative for S. enteritidis after 7 days. Established infections (10(5) to 10(6) CFU/g of feces) in 1-week-old chickens were eliminated by treatment with the polymyxin-trimethoprim system. This antimicrobial agent treatment may be useful for preventing colonization in poultry and for eliminating S. enteritidis from infected flocks.

  • An GH, Bielich J, Auerbach R, Johnson EA (1991) Isolation and characterization of carotenoid hyperproducing mutants of yeast by flow cytometry and cell sorting. Biotechnology (N.Y.) 9(1):70-3 · Pubmed

    The carotenoid pigment astaxanthin (3,3'-dihydroxy-beta,beta-carotene-4,4'-dione) is an important component in feeds of aquacultural animals. It is produced as a secondary metabolite by the yeast Phaffia rhodozyma, and the isolation of rare mutants that produce increased quantities is limited by the lack of genetic selections. As a model system for enriching mutants increased in production of secondary metabolites, we have used quantitative flow cytometry/cell sorting (FCCS) to isolate astaxanthin hyperproducing mutants of the yeast. Experimental conditions were developed that gave a quantitative correlation of fluorescence and carotenoid content. In mutated populations, a 10,000-fold enrichment of carotenoid-overproducing yeasts was obtained. Distinctive differences were detected by FCCS in fluorescence and forward scatter values of mutant and wild-type populations of yeasts. Comparison of wild-type and mutant clones by fluorescence confocal laser microscopy showed that the mutants had more intense fluorescence throughout the cell than the wild-type. Quantitative FCCS is a sensitive method to isolate and characterize carotenoid overproducing mutants and should be useful as a general method for the isolation of mutants increased in other fluorescent metabolites.

  • Leyer GJ, Johnson EA (1991) Repression of toxin production by tryptophan in Clostridium botulinum type E. Arch. Microbiol. 154(5):443-7 · Pubmed

    Of the seven amino acids required by Clostridium botulinum type E, tryptophan is the most essential and may provide the cell with nitrogen. The addition of excess tryptophan (10-20 mM) or other nitrogenous nutrients to minimal growth medium markedly decreased toxin formation but did not affect growth in C. botulinum type E. On the other hand, the addition of an enzymatic digest of casein (NZ Case) stimulated toxin formation and overcame repression by tryptophan. Immunoblots of proteins in culture fluids using antibodies to type E toxin indicated that tryptophan-repressed cultures produced less neurotoxin protein. Inhibitors of neurotoxin did not accumulate in cultures grown in minimal medium supplemented with high tryptophan. The results suggest that tryptophan availability in foods or in the intestine may be important for toxin formation by C. botulinum type E.

  • Weir EC, Jacoby RO, Paturzo FX, Johnson EA (1990) Infection of SDAV-immune rats with SDAV and rat coronavirus. Lab. Anim. Sci. 40(4):363-6 · Pubmed

    Infection of rats with sialodacryoadenitis virus (SDAV) or rat coronavirus (RCV) is acute and self-limiting, and elimination and control of either virus is based on the assumption that recovered rats are immune to reinfection. To test this hypothesis, we examined whether SDAV-immune rats could be infected with RCV or reinfected with SDAV. Sprague Dawley (SD) rats were inoculated intranasally with SDAV or with culture medium alone and serial SDAV antibody titers were obtained. Eleven months after inoculation, when antibody titers had stabilized, SDAV-immune and nonimmune rats were challenged with SDAV or RCV, and euthanatized 3 or 6 days later. SDAV-immune rats challenged with SDAV or RCV manifested acute rhinitis associated with virus antigen by 3 days after inoculation, but no lesions or antigen were subsequently found in the lower respiratory tract, salivary glands or lacrimal glands. There was also a marked anamnestic increase in antibody titer by 6 days after challenge. SDAV-immune rats challenged with SDAV or RCV also transmitted infection to nonimmune cage mates. This study indicates that 11 months after primary infection with SDAV, rats can be infected with SDAV or RCV, but that the severity of disease is significantly reduced.

  • An GH, Johnson EA (1990) Influence of light on growth and pigmentation of the yeast Phaffia rhodozyma. Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek 57(4):191-203 · Pubmed

    Light and antimycin markedly affected growth and carotenoid synthesis by Phaffia rhodozyma. Exposure of the yeast to high light intensities on agar plates resulted in growth inhibition and decreased carotenoid synthesis. The carotenoid compositions of the yeast were also notably changed by light. Beta-zeacarotene increased, whereas beta-carotene and xanthophylls decreased including astaxanthin, phoenicoxanthin, and 3-hydroxy-3',4'-didehydro-beta,psi-caroten-4-one (HDCO). In liquid medium, growth of the wild-type strain (UCD-FST-67-385) was inhibited by antimycin, but this inhibition was relieved by exposure to light. Light also stimulated carotenoid synthesis about twofold in these antimycin-treated cells. Light may have rescued growth by induction of an alternative oxidase system which facilitated electron disposal when the main respiratory chain was inhibited by antimycin. Isolation and characterization of the oxidase enzymes should be useful in strain development for increased carotenoid production.

  • Kihm DJ, Hutton MT, Hanlin JH, Johnson EA (1990) Influence of transition metals added during sporulation on heat resistance of Clostridium botulinum 113B spores. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 56(3):681-5 (PMC183405) · Pubmed

    Sporulation of Clostridium botulinum 113B in a complex medium supplemented with certain transition metals (Fe, Mn, Cu, or Zn) at 0.01 to 1.0 mM gave spores that were increased two to sevenfold in their contents of the added metals. The contents of calcium, magnesium, and other metals in the purified spores were relatively unchanged. Inclusion of sodium citrate (3 g/liter) in the medium enhanced metal accumulation and gave consistency in the transition metal contents of independent spore crops. In citrate-supplemented media, C. botulinum formed spores with very high contents of Zn (approximately 1% of the dry weight). Spores containing an increased content of Fe (0.1 to 0.2%) were more susceptible to thermal killing than were native spores or spores containing increased Zn or Mn. The spores formed with added Fe or Cu also appeared less able to repair heat-induced injuries than the spores with added Mn or Zn. Fe-increased spores appeared to germinate and outgrow at a higher frequency than did native and Mn-increased spores. This study shows that C. botulinum spores can be sensitized to increased thermal destruction by incorporation of Fe in the spores.

  • Weir EC, Jacoby RO, Paturzo FX, Johnson EA, Ardito RB (1990) Persistence of sialodacryoadenitis virus in athymic rats. Lab. Anim. Sci. 40(2):138-43 · Pubmed

    To determine whether SDAV infection persists in athymic rats, weanling athymic rats and euthymic rats were inoculated intranasally with 10(4) TCID50 of SDAV and examined periodically for up to 90 days. Viral antigen and lesions characteristic of acute SDAV infection, including rhinotracheitis, bronchitis and sialodacryoadenitis, were detected in both groups of rats during the first week. In euthymic rats, tissues were under repair and viral antigen was undetectable by day 17, and tissues were histologically normal by day 31 except for mild focal dacryoadenitis. In athymic rats, viral antigen and chronic active inflammation of respiratory tract, salivary and lacrimal glands persisted through day 90. Inflammation and viral antigen also were observed in the transitional epithelium of the renal pelvis and urinary bladder as late as day 90. Virus was isolated from nasopharynx, lung, salivary gland and Harderian gland of athymic rats through day 90. All euthymic rats seroconverted to SDAV by day 6, whereas all athymic rats remained seronegative through day 31, and two of six were seropositive by day 90. As judged by seroconversion of contact sentinels, six of six athymic rats shed virus through 6 weeks, and five of six through 10 weeks. These results indicate that SDAV persists in athymic rats, and that normal T cell function is required for host defenses against SDAV.

  • Rengpipat S, Johnson EA (1989) Characterization of a Lactobacillus strain producing white crystals on cheddar cheese. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 55(10):2579-82 (PMC203125) · Pubmed

    From an enrichment culture of white-crystal deposits from aged Cheddar cheese, an atypical Lactobacillus strain was characterized. The new isolate is facultatively heterofermentative, has a G + C content of 40 mol%, and produces D and L isomers of lactic acid. The strain had a limited ability to ferment carbohydrates. It utilized fructose, galactose, glucose, lactose, maltose, mannose, and ribose but was negative for esculin, gluconate, citrate, and several other carbon sources. The isolate also had low DNA-DNA homologies with strains of Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus plantarum. Cheese prepared with milk containing the isolate developed white crystals during curing. Formation of copious D-lactate from unknown substrates during curing probably caused the white-crystal deposits. The strain has been deposited in the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC 49178).

  • Patterson-Curtis SI, Johnson EA (1989) Regulation of neurotoxin and protease formation in Clostridium botulinum Okra B and Hall A by arginine. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 55(6):1544-8 (PMC202901) · Pubmed

    Supplementation of a minimal medium with high levels of arginine (20 g/liter) markedly decreased neurotoxin titers and protease activities in cultures of Clostridium botulinum Okra B and Hall A. Nitrogenous nutrients that are known to be derived from arginine, including proline, glutamate, and ammonia, also decreased protease and toxin but less so than did arginine. Proteases synthesized during growth were rapidly inactivated after growth stopped in media containing high levels of arginine. Separation of extracellular proteins by electrophoresis and immunoblots with antibodies to toxin showed that the decrease in toxin titers in media containing high levels of arginine was caused by both reduced synthesis of protoxin and impaired proteolytic activation. In contrast, certain other nutritional conditions stimulated protease and toxin formation in C. botulinum and counteracted the repression by arginine. Supplementation of the minimal medium with casein or casein hydrolysates increased protease activities and toxin titers. Casein supplementation of a medium containing high levels of arginine prevented protease inactivation. High levels of glucose (50 g/liter) also delayed the inactivation of proteases in both the minimal medium and a medium containing high levels of arginine. These observations suggest that the availability of nitrogen and energy sources, particularly arginine, affects the production and proteolytic processing of toxins and proteases in C. botulinum.

  • Sprenger GA, Hammer BA, Johnson EA, Lin EC (1989) Anaerobic growth of Escherichia coli on glycerol by importing genes of the dha regulon from Klebsiella pneumoniae. J. Gen. Microbiol. 135(5):1255-62 · Pubmed

    The dha regulon of Klebsiella pneumoniae specifying fermentative dissimilation of glycerol was mobilized by the broad-host-range plasmid RP4:mini Mu and introduced conjugatively into Escherichia coli. The recipient E. coli was enabled to grow anaerobically on glycerol without added hydrogen acceptors, although its cell yield was less than that of K. pneumoniae. The reduced cell yield was probably due to the lack of the coenzyme-B12-dependent glycerol dehydratase of the dha system. This enzyme initiates the first step in an auxiliary pathway for disposal of the extra reducing equivalents from glycerol. The lack of this enzyme would also account for the absence of 1,3-propanediol (a hallmark fermentation product of glycerol) in the spent culture medium. In a control experiment, a large quantity of this compound was detected in a similar culture medium following the growth of K. pneumoniae. The other three known enzymes of the dha system, glycerol dehydrogenase, dihydroxyacetone kinase and 1,3-propanediol oxidoreductase, however, were synthesized at levels comparable to those found in K. pneumoniae. Regulation of the dha system in E. coli appeared to follow the same pattern as in K. pneumoniae: the three acquired enzymes were induced by glycerol, catabolite repressed by glucose, and glycerol dehydrogenase was post-translationally inactivated during the shift from anaerobic to aerobic growth. The means by which the E. coli recipient can achieve redox balance without formation of 1,3-propanediol during anaerobic growth on glycerol remains to be discovered.

  • Hughey VL, Wilger PA, Johnson EA (1989) Antibacterial activity of hen egg white lysozyme against Listeria monocytogenes Scott A in foods. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 55(3):631-8 (PMC184171) · Pubmed

    Egg white lysozyme killed or prevented growth of Listeria monocytogenes Scott A in several foods. Lysozyme was more active in vegetables than in animal-derived foods that we tested. For maximum activity in certain foods, EDTA was required in addition to lysozyme. Lysozyme with EDTA effectively killed inoculated populations of 10(4) L. monocytogenes per g in fresh corn, fresh green beans, shredded cabbage, shredded lettuce, and carrots during storage at 5 degrees C. Control incubations without lysozyme supported growth of L. monocytogenes to 10(6) to 10(7)/g. Lysozyme had less activity in animal-derived foods, including fresh pork sausage (bratwurst) and Camembert cheese. In bratwurst, lysozyme with EDTA prevented L. monocytogenes from growing for 2 to 3 weeks but did not kill significant numbers of cells and did not prevent eventual growth. The control sausages not containing lysozyme supported rapid and heavy growth, which indicated that lysozyme was bacteriostatic for 2 to 3 weeks in fresh pork sausage. We also prepared Camembert cheese containing 10(4) L. monocytogenes cells per g and investigated the changes during ripening in cheeses supplemented with lysozyme and EDTA. Cheeses with lysozyme by itself or together with EDTA reduced the L. monocytogenes population by approximately 10-fold over the first 3 to 4 weeks of ripening. In the same period, the control cheese wheels without added lysozyme with and without chelator slowly started to grown and eventually reached 10(6) to 10(7) CFU/g after 55 days of ripening.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

  • Hammer BA, Johnson EA (1989) Purification, properties, and metabolic roles of NAD+-glutamate dehydrogenase in Clostridium botulinum 113B. Arch. Microbiol. 150(5):460-4 · Pubmed

    Cell-free extracts of proteolytic strains of Clostridium botulinum types A, B and F (group I) were found to have unusually high specific activities of NAD+-dependent L-glutamate dehydrogenase (NAD-GDH). In comparison, nonproteolytic strains of types B, E and F (group II) had low specific activities. The enzyme was purified 131-fold from C. botulinum 113B to a final specific activity of greater than 1,092 mumol x min-1 x mg protein-1. The enzyme is a hexamer of a polypeptide of Mr = 42,500, and the native molecular weight is 250,800. The apparent Km values for substrates were 5.3 mM for glutamate and 0.028 mM for NAD+ in the deamination reaction, and 7.2 mM for alpha-ketoglutarate, 243 mM for NH4+ and 0.028 mM for NADH in the reverse reaction. NADP+ did not serve as a hydrogen acceptor for the enzyme. Activity in the animation direction was inhibited by fumarate, oxalacetate, aspartate, glutamate and glutamine. The results suggest that GDH is important in group I (proteolytic) C. botulinum to generate alpha-ketoglutarate as a substrate for transamination reactions. We have also found that the high activity decreases significantly when cells are exposed to sodium chloride. Therefore GDH probably has several important physiological roles in group I proteolytic C. botulinum.

  • An GH, Schuman DB, Johnson EA (1989) Isolation of Phaffia rhodozyma Mutants with Increased Astaxanthin Content. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 55(1):116-24 (PMC184064) · Pubmed

    Plating of the astaxanthin-producing yeast Phaffia rhodozyma onto yeast-malt agar containing 50 muM antimycin A gave rise to colonies of unusual morphology, characterized by a nonpigmented lower smooth surface that developed highly pigmented vertical papillae after 1 to 2 months. Isolation and purification of the pigmented papillae, followed by testing for pigment production in shake flasks, demonstrated that several antimycin isolates were increased two- to fivefold in astaxanthin content compared with the parental natural isolate (UCD-FST 67-385). One of the antimycin strains (ant-1) and a nitrosoguanidine derivative of ant-1 (ant-1-4) produced considerably more astaxanthin than the parent (ant-1 had 800 to 900 mug/g; ant-1-4 had 900 to 1,300 mug/g; and 67-385 had 300 to 450 mug/g). The mutant strains were compared physiologically with the parent. The antimycin mutants grew slower on ammonia, glutamate, or glutamine as nitrogen sources compared with the natural isolate and also had lower cell yields on several carbon sources. Although isolated on antimycin plates, they were found to be more susceptible to antimycin A, apparently owing to the spatial separation of the papillae from the agar. They were also more susceptible than the parent to the respiratory inhibitor thenoyltrifluoroacetone and were slightly more susceptible to cyanide, but did not differ from the natural isolate in susceptibility to azide. The antimycin-derived strains were also killed faster than the parent by hydrogen peroxide. The carotenoid compositions of the parent and the antimycin-derived strains were similar to those previously determined in the type strain (UCD-FST 67-210) except that two carotenoids not previously found in the type strain were present in increased quantities in the antimycin mutants and phoenicoxanthin was a minor component. The chemical properties of the unknown carotenoids suggested that the strains isolated on antimycin agar tended to oxygenate and desaturate carotene precursors to a greater extent than the parent. The physiology of the antimycin isolates and the known specificity of antimycin for cytochrome b in the respiratory chain suggests that alteration of cytochrome b or cytochrome P-450 components involved in oxygenation and desaturation of carotenes in mitochondria are affected, which results in increased astaxanthin production. These astaxanthin-overproducing mutants and more highly pigmented derivative strains could be useful in providing a natural source of astaxanthin for the pen-reared-salmon industry or for other farmed animals that contain astaxanthin as their principal carotenoid.

  • Warren RQ, Johnson EA, Donnelly RP, Lavia MF, Tsang KY (1988) Specificity of anti-lymphocyte antibodies in sera from patients with AIDS-related complex (ARC) and healthy homosexuals. Clin. Exp. Immunol. 73(2):168-73 (PMC1541601) · Pubmed

    The presence and specificity of anti-lymphocyte antibodies (ALA) was investigated in sera from male homosexuals with AIDS-Related Complex (ARC) as well as healthy homosexuals. Individuals in the healthy homosexual group had no detectable antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Antibodies reactive with normal peripheral blood mononuclear cells were detected by Western blot analysis in sera from both groups of homosexuals. Of those individuals whose sera contained ALA, 71% of ARC patients and 83% of healthy homosexuals had antibodies recognizing a 73 kilodalton (kD) molecule. ALA present in ARC sera reacted with CD3+, CD4+ and CD8+ lymphocytes while little reactivity with B cells was observed. Our results indicate that ALA appear in homosexuals prior to HIV infection and are reactive primarily with T lymphocytes. A 73 kD structure associated with the T cell membrane is frequently the target for these antibodies.

  • Weir EC, Brownstein DG, Smith AL, Johnson EA (1988) Respiratory disease and wasting in athymic mice infected with pneumonia virus of mice. Lab. Anim. Sci. 38(2):133-7 · Pubmed

    Although pneumonia virus of mice (PVM) is ubiquitous among rodent colonies in the United States, it has not been reported to cause clinically apparent disease in euthymic mice. However, PVM has been reported to cause respiratory disease and death in experimentally infected euthymic and athymic mice. A group of nu/nu mice, housed in quarantine in a Trexler-type isolator, had weight loss and dyspnea. Gross necropsy findings included cachexia and diffuse pulmonary edema or lobar consolidation. Histologically there was diffuse interstitial pneumonia. Electron microscopy revealed filamentous virions budding from plasma membranes, and immunohistochemical staining of lung tissue was positive for PVM antigen. PVM was isolated from affected lung tissue in BHK 21 cells and mouse antibody production tests resulted in seroconversion to PVM. Experimental inoculation of athymic mice with lung homogenate from spontaneously infected mice resulted in clinically apparent respiratory disease and histologic lung changes similar to those in naturally infected mice. Inoculation of athymic mice with infected BHK 21 cell culture fluid resulted in pneumonia which was qualitatively similar to, but less severe than, that observed in mice with spontaneous disease. These findings indicate that naturally occurring PVM infection in athymic mice may cause respiratory disease and wasting.

  • Whitmer ME, Johnson EA (1988) Development of improved defined media for Clostridium botulinum serotypes A, B, and E. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 54(3):753-9 (PMC202536) · Pubmed

    The minimal nutritional growth requirements were determined for strains Okra B and Iwanai E, which are representatives of groups I and II, respectively, of Clostridium botulinum. These type B and E strains differed considerably in their nutrient requirements. The organic growth factors required in high concentrations by the Okra B strain (group I) were arginine and phenylalanine. Low concentrations (less than or equal to 0.1 g/liter) of eight amino acids (methionine, leucine, valine, isoleucine, glycine, histidine, tryptophan, and tyrosine) and of five vitamins (pyridoxamine, p-aminobenzoic acid, biotin, nicotinic acid, and thiamine) were also essential for biosynthesis. The 10 required amino acids could be replaced by intact protein of known composition by virtue of the bacterium's ability to synthesize proteases. Glucose or other carbohydrates were not essential for Okra B, although they did stimulate growth. Quantitatively, the most essential nutrients for Okra B were arginine and phenylalanine. In contrast, the nonproteolytic strain, Iwanai E (group II), did not require either arginine or phenylalanine. It required glucose or another carbohydrate energy source for growth and did not utilize arginine or intact protein as a substitute source of energy. Iwanai E utilized ammonia as a nitrogen source, although growth was stimulated significantly by organic nitrogenous nutrients, especially glutamate and asparagine. Iwanai E also required biosynthesis levels of seven amino acids (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, tryptophan, tyrosine, valine, and serine), adenine, and six vitamins (biotin, thiamine, pyridoxamine, folic acid, choline, and nicotinamide). Calcium pantothenate also stimulated growth. On the basis of the nutritional requirements, chemically defined minimal media have been constructed for C. botulinum serotypes A, B, E, and F (proteolytic).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

  • Mulloy B, Johnson EA (1987) Assignment of the 1H-n.m.r. spectra of heparin and heparan sulphate. Carbohydr. Res. 170(2):151-65 · Pubmed

    Resonances from the main repeating unit of heparan, ----4)-beta-D-GlcA-(1----4)-alpha-D-GlcNAc-(1----, have been assigned by using a sample of the capsular polysaccharide of E. coli K5. Comparison of the spectra of heparan sulphate samples before and after O- and/or N-desulphation, with re-N-acetylation or re-N-sulphation, allowed assignment of some of the H-1 doublets in terms of sequence effects. Chemical shifts for H-1 of unsulphated uronic acid residues are influenced by 6-sulphation of the nearest neighbour GlcN on the reducing side; those of GlcN residues vary according to whether they have IdoA or GlcA as the nearest neighbour on the reducing side. The H-1 doublets due to residues in the binding sequence for antithrombin have been assigned by comparison of the spectra of heparins having high and low affinities for immobilised antithrombin.

  • Hughey VL, Johnson EA (1987) Antimicrobial activity of lysozyme against bacteria involved in food spoilage and food-borne disease. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 53(9):2165-70 (PMC204075) · Pubmed

    Egg white lysozyme was demonstrated to have antibacterial activity against organisms of concern in food safety, including Listeria monocytogenes and certain strains of Clostridium botulinum. We also found that the food spoilage thermophile Clostridium thermosaccharolyticum was highly susceptible to lysozyme and confirmed that the spoilage organisms Bacillus stearothermophilus and Clostridium tyrobutyricum were also extremely sensitive. Several gram-positive and gram-negative pathogens isolated from food poisoning outbreaks, including Bacillus cereus, Clostridium perfringens, Staphylococcus aureus, Campylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella typhimurium, and Yersinia enterocolitica, were all resistant. The results of this study suggest that lysozyme may have selected applications in food preservation, especially when thermophilic sporeformers are problems, and as a safeguard against food poisoning caused by C. botulinum and L. monocytogenes.

  • Jacoby RO, Bhatt PN, Gaertner DJ, Smith AL, Johnson EA (1987) The pathogenesis of rat virus infection in infant and juvenile rats after oronasal inoculation. Arch. Virol. 95(3-4):251-70 · Pubmed

    The pathogenesis of rat virus (RV) infection was studied in random-bred Sprague-Dawley rats after oronasal inoculation of a recent RV isolate designated RV-Yale (RV-Y). RV-Y was pathogenic for rats inoculated as infants (2 days) whereas rats inoculated as juveniles (4 weeks) had asymptomatic infection and no lesions. Rats inoculated as infants developed pantropic infection accompanied by hepatic necrosis, granuloprival cerebellar hypoplasia and hemorrhagic encephalopathy. Virological and serological studies showed that virus could persist in inoculated rats for at least 35 days and for at least 28 days after seroconversion was first detected. Immunohistochemical results indicated that RV-Y infects tissues conducive to virus excretion including kidney and lung. RV-Y also was found in genital tissues of some rats. Athymic juvenile rats inoculated intraperitoneally with RV-Y had a poor humoral immune response and harbored infectious virus for at least 3 weeks, whereas infection in euthymic control rats was detected for 1 week. These studies indicate that RV-Y can persists in the presence of humoral immunity and suggest that transmission of infection could occur for a substantial period after seroconversion. They also suggest that immunodeficient rats have increased susceptibility to persistent infection.

  • Barthold SW, Bhatt PN, Johnson EA (1987) Further evidence for papovavirus as the probable etiology of transmissible lymphoma of Syrian hamsters. Lab. Anim. Sci. 37(3):283-8 · Pubmed

    The role of hamster papovavirus as the etiology of transmissible lymphoma was investigated under strict conditions that prevented natural exposure to the lymphoma agent. In an initial experiment, 19 hamsters that were exposed naturally to transmissible lymphoma were placed in direct and indirect contact with weanling hamsters from an uninfected source. Lymphoma developed in the original infected hamsters as well as hamsters maintained in direct and indirect contact. In addition, one of the contact hamsters developed cutaneous epitheliomas, containing hamster papovavirus. Epithelioma homogenate was inoculated into primary hamster embryo cultures, in which hamster papovavirus replicated. Second and third passage tissue culture fluid containing hamster papovavirus induced lymphomas in suckling and weanling hamsters. Cell culture fluid from uninoculated embryo cultures was not oncogenic.

  • Johnson EA, Lin EC (1987) Klebsiella pneumoniae 1,3-propanediol:NAD+ oxidoreductase. J. Bacteriol. 169(5):2050-4 (PMC212087) · Pubmed

    Fermentative utilization of glycerol, a more reduced carbohydrate than aldoses and ketoses, requires the disposal of the two extra hydrogen atoms. This is accomplished by sacrificing an equal quantity of glycerol via an auxiliary pathway initiated by glycerol dehydratase. The product, 3-hydroxypropionaldehyde, is then reduced by 1,3-propanediol NAD+:oxidoreductase (1,3-propanediol dehydrogenase; EC, resulting in the regeneration of NAD+ from NADH. The pathway for the assimilation of glycerol is initiated by an NAD-linked dehydrogenase. In Klebsiella pneumoniae the two pathways are encoded by the dha regulon which is inducible only anaerobically. In this study 1,3-propanediol:NAD+ oxidoreductase was purified from cells grown anaerobically on glycerol. The enzyme was immunochemically distinct from the NAD-linked glycerol dehydrogenase and was an octamer or hexamer of a polypeptide of 45,000 +/- 3,000 daltons. When tested as a dehydrogenase, only 1,3-propanediol served as a substrate; no activity was detected with ethanol, 1-propanol, 1,2-propanediol, glycerol, or 1,4-butanediol. The enzyme was inhibited by chelators of divalent cations. An enzyme preparation inhibited by alpha,alpha'-dipyridyl was reactivated by the addition of Fe2+ or Mn2+ after removal of the chelator by gel filtration. As for glycerol dehydrogenase, 1,3-propanediol oxidoreductase is apparently inactivated by oxidation during aerobic metabolism, under which condition the enzyme becomes superfluous.