Tetanus toxin potently and almost irreversibly inhibits the release of neurotransmitters from nerve terminals. The toxin binds to and activates transglutaminase, a Ca2+-dependent enzyme that can form stable crosslinks between substrate proteins. Transglutaminase is present in nerve terminals and recognizes synapsin I, an abundant synaptic vesicle phosphoprotein involved in neurotransmission, as an excellent substrate. The neuroparalytic action of tetanus toxin might be due, at least in part, to the stimulation of synaptic transglutaminase and the consequent crosslinking of synapsin I.
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