Botulinum and tetanus neurotoxins

Min Dong, Geoffrey Masuyer, Pål Stenmark

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

121 Citations (SciVal)
278 Downloads (Pure)


Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) and tetanus neurotoxin (TeNT) are the most potent toxins known and cause botulism and tetanus, respectively. BoNTs are also widely utilized as therapeutic toxins. They contain three functional domains responsible for receptor-binding, membrane translocation, and proteolytic cleavage of host proteins required for synaptic vesicle exocytosis. These toxins also have distinct features: BoNTs exist within a progenitor toxin complex (PTC), which protects the toxin and facilitates its absorption in the gastrointestinal tract, whereas TeNT is uniquely transported retrogradely within motor neurons. Our increasing knowledge of these toxins has allowed the development of engineered toxins for medical uses. The discovery of new BoNTs and BoNT-like proteins provides additional tools to understand the evolution of the toxins and to engineer toxin-based therapeutics. This review summarizes the progress on our understanding of BoNTs and TeNT, focusing on the PTC, receptor recognition, new BoNT-like toxins, and therapeutic toxin engineering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)811-837
Number of pages27
JournalAnnual Review of Biochemistry
Early online date2 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2019


  • bacterial toxin
  • botulinum neurotoxin
  • clostridium
  • protein engineering
  • tetanus neurotoxin
  • toxin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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