Journal of Protein Chemistry

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 351–363 | Cite as

Botulinum type A neurotoxin digested with pepsin yields 132, 97, 72, 45, 42, and 18 kD fragments

  • Juan A. Gimenez
  • Bibhuti R. DasGupta


Botulinum neurotoxin (NT) serotype A is a dichain protein made of a light and a heavy chain linked by at least one interchain disulfide; based on SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis their molecular masses appear as 147, 52, and 93 kD, respectively. Digestion of the NT with pepsin under controlledpH (4.3 and 6.0), time (1 and 24 hr), and temperature (25 and 30°C) produced 132, 97, 42, and 18 kD fragments. The three larger fragments were isolated by ionexchange chromatography. The 132 and 97 kD fragments are composed of 52 kD light chain and 72 and 45 kD fragments of the heavy chain, respectively. The sequences of amino terminal residues of these fragments were determined to identify the pepsin cleavage sites in the NT, which based on nucleotide sequence has 1295 amino acid residues (Binzet al., J. Biol. Chem.265, 9153, 1990). The 42 kD fragment, beginning with residue 866, is the C-terminal half of the heavy chain. The 18 kD fragment, of which the first 72 residues were identified beginning with residue 1147, represents the C-terminal segment of the heavy chain. The 132 kD fragment (residue 1 to ∼1146) is thus a truncated version of the NT without its 18 kD C-terminal segment. The 97 kD fragment (residue 1 to ∼865) is also a truncated NT with its 42 kD C-terminal segment excised. These peptic fragments contain one or two of the three functional domains of the NT (binds receptors, forms channels, and intracellularly inhibits exocytosis of the neurotransmitter) that can be used for structure-function studies of the NT. This report also demonstrates for the first time that of the six Cys residues 453, 790, 966, 1059, 1234, and 1279 located in the heavy chain the later four do not form interchain disulfide links with the light chain; however, Cys 1234 and 1279 contained within the 18 kD fragment form intrachain disulfide. The electrophoretic behaviors of type A NT and its fragments in native gels and their comparison with botulinum NT serotypes B and E as well as tetanus NT suggest that each NT forms dimers or other aggregates and the aggregation does not occur when the 42 kD C-terminal half of the heavy chain is excised. Thus, the C-terminal half of the heavy chain appears important in the self-association to form dimers.

Key words

Botulinum neurotoxin pepsin fragmentation chromatographic separation amino acid sequences 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juan A. Gimenez
    • 1
  • Bibhuti R. DasGupta
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Food Microbiology and ToxicologyUniversity of WisconsinMadison

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