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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

A mutational analysis of the globotriaosylceramide-binding sites of verotoxin VT1.

Escherichia coli verotoxin, also known as Shiga-like toxin, binds to eukaryotic cell membranes via the glycolipid Gb(3) receptors which present the P(k) trisaccharide Galalpha(1-4)Galbeta(1-4)Glcbeta. Crystallographic studies have identified three P(k) trisaccharide (P(k)-glycoside) binding sites per verotoxin 1B subunit (VT1B) monomer while NMR studies have identified binding of P(k)-glycoside only at site 2. To understand the basis for this difference, we studied binding of wild type VT1B and VT1B mutants, defective at one or more of the three sites, to P(k)-glycoside and pentavalent P(k) trisaccharide (pentaSTARFISH) in solution and Gb(3) presented on liposomal membranes using surface plasmon resonance. Site 2 was the key site in terms of free trisaccharide binding since mutants altered at sites 1 and 3 bound this ligand with wild type affinity. However, effective binding of the pentaSTARFISH molecule also required a functional site 3, suggesting that site 3 promotes pentavalent binding of linked trisaccharides at site 1 and site 2. Optimal binding to membrane-associated Gb(3) involved all three sites. Binding of all single site mutants to liposomal Gb(3) was weaker than wild type VT1B binding. Site 3 mutants behaved as if they had reduced ability to enter into high avidity interactions with Gb(3) in the membrane context. Double mutants at site 1/site 3 and site 2/site 3 were completely inactive in terms of binding to liposomal Gb(3,) even though the site 1/site 3 mutant bound trisaccharide with almost wild type affinity. Thus site 2 alone is not sufficient to confer high avidity binding to membrane-localized Gb(3). Cytotoxic activity paralleled membrane glycolipid binding. Our data show that the interaction of verotoxin with the Gb(3) trisaccharide is highly context dependent and that a membrane environment is required for biologically relevant studies of the interaction.[1]


  1. A mutational analysis of the globotriaosylceramide-binding sites of verotoxin VT1. Soltyk, A.M., MacKenzie, C.R., Wolski, V.M., Hirama, T., Kitov, P.I., Bundle, D.R., Brunton, J.L. J. Biol. Chem. (2002) [Pubmed]
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