DNA fragments derived from the Clostridium botulinum type A neurotoxin (BoNT/A) gene (botA) were used in DNA-DNA hybridization reactions to derive a restriction map of the region of the C. botulinum type B strain Danish chromosome encoding botB. As the one probe encoded part of the BoNT/A heavy (H) chain and the other encoded part of the light (L) chain, the position and orientation of botB relative to this map were established. The temperature at which hybridization occurred indicated that a higher degree of DNA homology occurred between the two genes in the H-chain-encoding region. By using the derived restriction map data, a 2.1-kb BglII-XbaI fragment encoding the entire BoNT/B L chain and 108 amino acids of the H chain was cloned and characterized by nucleotide sequencing. A contiguous 1.8-kb XbaI fragment encoding a further 623 amino acids of the H chain was also cloned. The 3' end of the gene was obtained by cloning a 1.6-kb fragment amplified from genomic DNA by inverse polymerase chain reaction. Translation of the nucleotide sequence derived from all three clones demonstrated that BoNT/B was composed of 1,291 amino acids. Comparative alignment of its sequence with all currently characterized BoNTs (A, C, D, and E) and tetanus toxin (TeTx) showed that a wide variation in percent homology occurred dependent on which component of the dichain was compared. Thus, the L chain of BoNT/B exhibits the greatest degree of homology (50% identity) with the TeTx L chain, whereas its H chain is most homologous (48% identity) with the BoNT/A H chain. Overall, the six neurotoxins were shown to be composed of highly conserved amino acid domains interceded with amino acid tracts exhibiting little overall similarity. In total, 68 amino acids of an average of 442 are absolutely conserved between L chains and 110 of 845 amino acids are conserved between H chains. Conservation of Trp residues (one in the L chain and nine in the H chain) was particularly striking. The most divergent region corresponds to the extreme carboxy terminus of each toxin, which may reflect differences in specificity of binding to neurone acceptor sites
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