How Botox enters brain cells?

A Botox discovery that could save lives.


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Botox is a drug made from a deadly biological substance. The injectable drug Botox was initially created to treat strabismus, an eye ailment, but it was soon discovered to be effective for treating migraine, persistent pain, and spasticity disorders.

It is currently frequently utilized in plastic surgery and is well-known as a cosmetic wrinkle treatment.

Scientists from The University of Queensland have unraveled how Botox enters brain cells. They identify the molecular mechanism by which the highly deadly Botulinum neurotoxin type-A, more widely known as Botox, enters neurons.

Using super-resolution microscopy, scientists demonstrated that a receptor called Synaptotagmin 1 binds to two other previously known clostridial neurotoxin receptors, forming a small complex that sits on the plasma membrane of neurons. The toxin takes control of this complex and enters the synaptic vesicles, which house neurotransmitters essential for intercellular communication.

Botox then interrupts the communication between nerves and muscle cells, causing paralysis.

According to scientists, this discovery could offer ways to find and develop effective treatments for botulism – a rare but potentially fatal bacterial infection.

Professor Frederic Meunier at UQ’s Queensland Brain Institute said, “Now we know how this complex allows the toxin internalization, we can block interactions between any of the three receptors to stop the deadly toxins from getting into neurons.”

Dr. Merja Joensuu at UQ’s Queensland Brain Institute said, “We now have a full picture of how these toxins are internalized to intoxicate neurons at therapeutically relevant concentrations.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Merja Joensuu, Parnayan Syed, Saber H Saber et al. Presynaptic targeting of botulinum neurotoxin type A requires a tripartite PSG-Syt1-SV2 plasma membrane nanocluster for synaptic vesicle entry. EMBO Journal. DOI: 10.15252/embj.2022112095


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