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The two major forms of Shiga toxin, Stx1 and Stx2, use the glycolipid globotriaosylceramide (Gb3) as their cellular receptor. Stx1 primarily recognizes the Pk-trisaccharide portion and has three Pk binding sites per B monomer. The Stx2a subtype requires glycolipid residues in addition to Pk. We synthesized analogs of Pk to examine the binding preferences of Stx1 and Stx2 subtypes a to d. Furthermore, to determine how many binding sites must be engaged, the Pk analogues were conjugated to biotinylated mono- and biantennary platforms, allowing for the display of two to four Pk analogues per streptavidin molecule. Stx binding to Pk analogues immobilized on streptavidin-coated plates was assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Stx1, but not the Stx2 subtypes, bound to native Pk. Stx2a and Stx2c bound to the Pk analog with a terminal GalNAc (NAc-Pk), while Stx1, Stx2b, and Stx2d did not bind to this analog. Interestingly, the purified Stx2d B subunit bound to NAc-Pk, suggesting that the A subunit of Stx2d interferes with binding. Disaccharide analogs (Galα1-4Gal, GalNAcα1-4Gal, and Galα1-4GalNAc) did not support the binding of any of the Stx forms, indicating that the trisaccharide is necessary for binding. Studies with monoantennary and biantennary analogs and mixtures suggest that Stx1, Stx2a, and Stx2c need to engage at least three Pk analogues for effective binding. To our knowledge, this is the first study examining the minimum number of Pk analogs required for effective binding and the first report documenting the role of the A subunit in influencing Stx2 binding.


Hailemichael O Yosief, Suri S Iyer, Alison A Weiss. Binding of Pk-trisaccharide analogs of globotriaosylceramide to Shiga toxin variants. Infection and immunity. 2013 Aug;81(8):2753-60

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PMID: 23690406

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