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Structure and enzymatic activity of botulinum neurotoxins


  • This article is a US Government work and, as such, is in the public domain in the United States of America.


The structure of botulinum neurotoxin type B (BoNT/B) is analyzed, and it is demonstrated that the carbonyl oxygen of the scissile bond comes close to the zinc ion to form a Michaelis complex. The hydrated carbonyl is activated by the nucleophilic water, which moves closer to Glu 230 to form hydrogen bonds to side-chain carboxylate. This process frees up the lone pair, which forms a bond with carbonyl carbon, corresponding to the tetrahedral transition state. The hydrated peptide oxygen is stabilized by a zinc ion and a water molecule close by. The proton from the nucleophile moves to NH of the scissile bond. The other proton is shuttled by Glu 230 to the NH2 group to make it NH3+ and allows it to leave. This mechanism is consistent with that proposed for thermolysin and BoNT/A. On the basis of these studies, we have shown that Tyr372 or Arg369 may not have any significant role in catalytic activity except for a secondary role such as stabilizing the transition state. Thus, the sulfate ion mimics the transition state of the scissile carbonyl carbon atom. However, the sulfate ion by itself does not inhibit the toxicity. Published 2004 by John Wiley & Sons