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Comparison of fluorigenic peptide substrates PL50, SNAPTide, and BoTest A/E for BoNT/A detection and quantification: exosite binding confers high-assay sensitivity.

Ouimet, T;Duquesnoy, S;Poras, H;Fourni-Zaluski, MC;Roques, BP;

Detection and quantification of low doses of botulinum toxin serotype A (BoNT/A) in medicinal preparations require precise and sensitive methods. With mounting pressure from governmental authorities to replace the mouse LD50 assay, interest in alternative methods such as the endopeptidase assay, quantifying the toxin active moiety, is growing. Using internal collision-induced fluorescence quenching, Pharmaleads produced peptides encompassing the SNAP-25 cleavage site: a 17-mer (PL63) and a 48-mer (PL50) reaching the previously identified -exosite, with PL50 showing higher apparent affinity for BoNT/A. Peptide mapping experiments revealed that this increased affinity is mainly due to a connecting peptide sequence between the N-terminus of PL63 and the -exosite, identifying a new cooperative exosite on BoNT/A. Other endopeptidase substrates available, including SNAPTide and BoTest A/E, are both based on fluorescent resonance energy transfer (FRET) technology. To compare these assays, their limits of detection and quantification were determined using light chain or 150-kDa BoNT/A. Detection limits of PL50 and BoTest were over 100 times better than those using SNAPtide in standard conditions. Although the BoTest possessed a detection limit around 0.2 pM for either BoNT/A form, its quantification limit (9.7 pM) using purified BoNT/A was 12 times inferior to PL50, estimated at 0.8 pM, suitable for medicinal preparation quantification.