BER launches Environmental System Science Program. Visit our new website under construction!

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights


New Understanding of the Toxic Effects of Botulism Toxin
Published: December 20, 2004
Posted: January 03, 2005

The physical structure of a complex of the protease part of botulism toxin (botulinum neurotoxin A protease (BoNT/A)) bound to a protein (SNAP-25) has been determined, providing information about how the toxin causes paralysis. SNAP-25 is part of a protein complex that enables release of neurotransmitters that carry signals between successive cells in a nerve. BoNT/A leads to the breakdown of SNAP-25 reducing the ability of cells to release neurotransmitters resulting in paralysis. X-ray diffraction studies of crystals of the complex identified the precise interactions of BoNT/A as it interfaces with SNAP-25. This new information may lead to design of molecules that could inhibit the adverse effects of the botulism neurotoxin. Structures were determined at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory and the Advanced Light Source at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The results are described in a paper published in Nature on December 16 (Nature 432, 925-929, 2004) by Stanford University scientists Mark A. Breidenbach and Axel Brunger.

Contact: Roland F. Hirsch, SC-73, (301) 903-9009
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Structural Biology, Biomolecular Characterization and Imaging
  • Research Area: Structural Biology Infrastructure
  • Research Area: Research Technologies and Methodologies
  • Legacy: Medical Applications

Division: SC-33.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER
      (formerly SC-73 Medical Sciences Division, OBER)

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Mar 23, 2021
Molecular Connections from Plants to Fungi to Ants
Lipids transfer energy and serve as an inter-kingdom communication tool in leaf-cutter ants&rsqu [more...]

Mar 19, 2021
Microbes Use Ancient Metabolism to Cycle Phosphorus
Microbial cycling of phosphorus through reduction-oxidation reactions is older and more widespre [more...]

Feb 22, 2021
Warming Soil Means Stronger Microbe Networks
Soil warming leads to more complex, larger, and more connected networks of microbes in those soi [more...]

Jan 27, 2021
Labeling the Thale Cress Metabolites
New data pipeline identifies metabolites following heavy isotope labeling.

Analysis [more...]

Aug 31, 2020
Novel Bacterial Clade Reveals Origin of Form I Rubisco
Objectives

  • All plant biomass is sourced from the carbon-fixing enzyme Rub [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)