Journal of molecular biology

Identification and Characterization of Botulinum Neurotoxin A Substrate Binding Pockets and Their Re-Engineering for Human SNAP-23.

PMID 26523682


Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) are highly potent bacterial proteins that block neurotransmitter release at the neuromuscular junction by cleaving SNAREs (soluble N-ethyl maleimide sensitive factor attachment protein receptors). However, their serotype A (BoNT/A) that cleaves SNAP-25 (synaptosomal-associated protein of 25 kDa) has also been an established pharmaceutical for treatment of medical conditions that rely on hyperactivity of cholinergic nerve terminals for 25 years. The expansion of its use to a variety of further medical conditions associated with hypersecretion components is prevented partly because the involved SNARE isoforms are not cleaved. Therefore, we examined by mutational analyses the reason for the resistance of human SNAP-23, an isoform of SNAP-25. We show that replacement of 10 SNAP-23 residues with their SNAP-25 counterparts effects SNAP-25-like cleavability. Conversely, transfer of each of the replaced SNAP-23 residues to SNAP-25 drastically decreased the cleavability of SNAP-25. By means of the existing SNAP-25-toxin co-crystal structure, molecular dynamics simulations, and corroborative mutagenesis studies, the appropriate binding pockets for these residues in BoNT/A were characterized. Systematic mutagenesis of two major BoNT/A binding pockets was conducted in order to adapt these pockets to corresponding amino acids of human SNAP-23. Human SNAP-23 cleaving mutants were isolated using a newly established yeast-based screening system. This method may be useful for engineering novel BoNT/A pharmaceuticals for the treatment of diseases that rely on SNAP-23-mediated hypersecretion.