Science Now reports on Leveque et al. PMID: 24583693

Biosens Bioelectron.
2014 Jul 15;57:207-12. doi: 10.1016/j.bios.2014.02.015. Epub 2014 Feb 18.

Direct biosensor detection of botulinum neurotoxin endopeptidase activity in sera from patients with type A botulism.

Lévêque C1, Ferracci G2, Maulet Y3, Mazuet C4, Popoff M4, Seagar M3, El Far O3.

Botulinum neurotoxin A (BoNT/A) has intrinsic endoprotease activity specific for SNAP-25, a key protein for presynaptic neurotransmitter release. The inactivation of SNAP-25 by BoNT/A underlies botulism, a rare but potentially fatal disease. There is a crucial need for a rapid and sensitive in vitro serological test for BoNT/A to replace the current in vivo mouse bioassay. Cleavage of SNAP-25 by BoNT/A generates neo-epitopes which can be detected by binding of a monoclonal antibody (mAb10F12) and thus measured by surface plasmon resonance (SPR). We have explored two SPR assay formats, with either mAb10F12 or His6-SNAP-25 coupled to the biosensor chip. When BoNT/A was incubated with SNAP-25 in solution and the reaction products were captured on a mAb-coated chip, a sensitivity of 5 fM (0.1LD50/ml serum) was obtained. However, this configuration required prior immunoprecipitation of BoNT/A. A sensitivity of 0.5 fM in 10% serum (0.1 LD50/ml serum) was attained when SNAP-25 was coupled directly to the chip, followed by sequential injection of BoNT/A samples and mAb10F12 into the flow system to achieve on-chip cleavage and detection, respectively. This latter format detected BoNT/A endoprotease activity in 50-100 µl serum samples from all patients (11/11) with type A botulism within 5h. No false positives occurred in sera from healthy subjects or patients with other neurological diseases. The automated chip-based procedure has excellent specificity and sensitivity, with significant advantages over the mouse bioassay in terms of rapidity, required sample volume and animal ethics.