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Augmentation of VAMP-catalytic activity of botulinum neurotoxin serotype B does not result in increased potency in physiological systems

Elliott, M;Maignel, J;Liu, SM;Favre-Guilmard, C;Mir, I;Farrow, P;Hornby, F;Marlin, S;Palan, S;Beard, M;Krupp, J;

Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) are used extensively as therapeutic agents. Serotypes A and B are available as marketed products. Higher doses of BoNT/B are required to reach an efficacy similar to that of products containing BoNT/A. Advances in our understanding of BoNT/B mechanism of action have afforded the opportunity to make rational modifications to the toxin aimed at increasing its activity. Recently, a mutation in the light chain of BoNT/B (S201P) was described that increases the catalytic activity of the isolated BoNT/B light chain in biochemical assays. In this study, we have produced two full-length recombinant BoNT/B toxins in E.coli-one wild type (rBoNT/B1) and one incorporating the S201P mutation (rBoNT/B1(S201P)). We have compared the activity of these two molecules along with a native BoNT/B1 in biochemical cell-free assays and in several biological systems. In the cell-free assay, which measured light-chain activity alone, rBoNT/B1(S201P) cleaved VAMP-2 and VAMP-1 substrate with an activity 3-4-fold higher than rBoNT/B1. However, despite the enhanced catalytic activity of rBoNT/B1(S201P), there was no significant difference in potency between the two molecules in any of the in vitro cell-based assays, using either rodent spinal cord neurons or cortical neurons. Similarly in ex vivo tissue preparations rBoNT/B1(S201P) was not significantly more potent than rBoNT/B1 at inhibiting either diaphragm or detrusor (bladder) muscle activity in C57BL/6N and CD1 mice. Finally, no differences between rBoNT/B1 and rBoNT/B1(S201P) were observed in an in vivo digit abduction score (DAS) assay in C57BL/6N mice, either in efficacy or safety parameters. The lack of translation from the enhanced BoNT/B1(S201P) catalytic activity to potency in complex biological systems suggests that the catalytic step is not the rate-limiting factor for BoNT/B to reach maximum efficacy. In order to augment the efficacy of BoNT/B in humans, strategies other than enhancing light chain activity may need to be considered.