Long-term effects of botulinum neurotoxins on neuronal viability

Neurons are highly specialized cells with sophisticated membrane trafficking processes. Our overarching goal is to understand how the membrane trafficking system is specialized and regulated in neurons and how defects in membrane trafficking pathways lead to neurodegeneration and other developmental diseases. Studying how pathogens exploit membrane trafficking systems in cells has been proven to be a powerful approach to understand the molecular mechanism of these critical cellular processes. Our current approach utilizes botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) and related tetanus neurotoxin (TeNT) as probes to investigate the key membrane trafficking events in neurons that are critical for neuronal development and neurodegeneration.