Rho-inhibiting C2IN-C3 fusion toxin inhibits chemotactic recruitment of human monocytes ex vivo and in mice in vivo

Arch Toxicol. 2018 Jan;92(1):323-336. doi: 10.1007/s00204-017-2058-y. Epub 2017 Sep 18.


Bacterial protein toxins became valuable molecular tools for the targeted modulation of cell functions in experimental pharmacology and attractive therapeutics because of their potent and specific mode of action in human cells. C2IN-C3lim, a recombinant fusion toxin (~50 kDa) of the Rho-inhibiting C3lim from Clostridium (C.) limosum and a non-toxic portion of the C. botulinum C2 toxin (C2IN), is selectively internalized into the cytosol of monocytic cells where C3lim specifically ADP-ribosylates Rho A and -B, thereby inhibiting Rho-mediated signaling. Thus, we hypothesized that these unique features make C2IN-C3lim an attractive molecule for the targeted pharmacological down-regulation of Rho-mediated functions in monocytes. The analysis of the actin structure and the Rho ADP-ribosylation status implied that C2IN-C3lim entered the cytosol of primary human monocytes from healthy donors ex vivo within 1 h. Moreover, it inhibited the fMLP-induced chemotaxis of human monocytes in a Boyden chamber model ex vivo. Similarly, in a 3-dimensional ex vivo model of extravasation, single cell analysis revealed that C2IN-C3lim-treated cells were not able to move. In a clinically relevant mouse model of blunt chest trauma, the local application of C2IN-C3lim into the lungs after thorax trauma prevented the trauma-induced recruitment of monocytes into the lungs in vivo. Thus, C2IN-C3lim might be an attractive lead compound for novel pharmacological strategies to avoid the cellular damage response caused by monocytes in damaged tissue after trauma and during systemic inflammation. The results suggest that the pathophysiological role of clostridial C3 toxins might be a down-modulation of the innate immune system.

Keywords: Chemotaxis; Clostridial C3 toxin; Inflammation; Monocytes; Rho; Trauma.

MeSH terms

  • ADP Ribose Transferases / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Botulinum Toxins / genetics*
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemotaxis / drug effects*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / pathology
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Monocytes / cytology
  • Monocytes / drug effects*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Thoracic Injuries / drug therapy
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / drug therapy
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • ADP Ribose Transferases
  • exoenzyme C3, Clostridium botulinum
  • Botulinum Toxins
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins
  • botulinum toxin type C