Ligand-binding assays for cyanobacterial neurotoxins targeting cholinergic receptors

Aráoz, Rómulo; Vilariño, Natalia; Botana, Luis M.; Molgó, Jordi
July 2010
Analytical & Bioanalytical Chemistry;Jul2010, Vol. 397 Issue 5, p1695
Academic Journal
Toxic cyanobacterial blooms are a threat to public health because of the capacity of some cyanobacterial species to produce potent hepatotoxins and neurotoxins. Cyanobacterial neurotoxins are involved in the rapid death of wild and domestic animals by targeting voltage gated sodium channels and cholinergic synapses, including the neuromuscular junction. Anatoxin-a and its methylene homologue homoanatoxin-a are potent agonists of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Since the structural determination of anatoxin-a, several mass spectrometry-based methods have been developed for detection of anatoxin-a and, later, homoanatoxin-a. Mass spectrometry-based techniques provide accuracy, precision, selectivity, sensitivity, reproducibility, adequate limit of detection, and structural and quantitative information for analyses of cyanobacterial anatoxins from cultured and environmental cyanobacterial samples. However, these physicochemical techniques will only detect known toxins for which toxin standards are commercially available, and they require highly specialized laboratory personnel and expensive equipment. Receptor-based assays are functional methods that are based on the mechanism of action of a class of toxins and are thus, suitable tools for survey of freshwater reservoirs for cyanobacterial anatoxins. The competition between cyanobacterial anatoxins and a labelled ligand for binding to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors is measured radioactively or non-radioactively providing high-throughput screening formats for routine detection of this class of neurotoxins. The mouse bioassay is the method of choice for marine toxin monitoring, but has to be replaced by fully validated functional methods. In this paper we review the ligand-binding assays developed for detection of cyanobacterial and algal neurotoxins targeting the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and for high-throughput screening of novel nicotinic agents. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]


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