Research Papers:

Botulinum neurotoxin type C protease induces apoptosis in differentiated human neuroblastoma cells

Aleksander Rust _, Charlotte Leese, Thomas Binz and Bazbek Davletov

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:33220-33228. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.8903

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Aleksander Rust1, Charlotte Leese1, Thomas Binz2, Bazbek Davletov1

1University of Sheffield, Firth Court, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK

2Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Institut für Physiologische Chemie OE4310, 30625 Hannover, Germany

Correspondence to:

Bazbek Davletov, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: neuroblastoma, differentiation, botulinum, toxin, apoptosis

Received: February 24, 2016    Accepted: April 04, 2016    Published: April 21, 2016


Neuroblastomas constitute a major cause of cancer-related deaths in young children. In recent years, a number of translation-inhibiting enzymes have been evaluated for killing neuroblastoma cells. Here we investigated the potential vulnerability of human neuroblastoma cells to protease activity derived from botulinum neurotoxin type C. We show that following retinoic acid treatment, human neuroblastoma cells, SiMa and SH-SY5Y, acquire a neuronal phenotype evidenced by axonal growth and expression of neuronal markers. Botulinum neurotoxin type C which cleaves neuron-specific SNAP25 and syntaxin1 caused apoptotic death only in differentiated neuroblastoma cells. Direct comparison of translation-inhibiting enzymes and the type C botulinum protease revealed one order higher cytotoxic potency of the latter suggesting a novel neuroblastoma-targeting pathway. Our mechanistic insights revealed that loss of ubiquitous SNAP23 due to differentiation coupled to SNAP25 cleavage due to botulinum activity may underlie the apoptotic death of human neuroblastoma cells.

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PII: 8903