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Glycosphingolipids (GSLs) consist of a ceramide (Cer) lipid anchor, which is typically composed of the long-chain aminoalcohol sphingosine (d18:1) and a fatty acid (mostly C16-C24) and a sugar moiety harboring to a great extent one to five monosaccharides. GSLs of the globo-series are well-recognized receptors of Shiga toxins (Stxs) released by Stx-producing Escherichia coli (STEC). Receptors for the Stx subtypes Stx1a and Stx2a are globotriaosylceramide (Gb3Cer) and globotetraosylceramide (Gb4Cer), whereby Gb3Cer represents their high-affinity and Gb4Cer their low-affinity receptor. In addition to Gb3Cer and Gb4Cer, Gb5Cer and Forssman GSL are further receptors of the Stx2e subtype rendering Stx2e unique among the various Stx subtypes. Thin-layer chromatography (TLC) is a convenient and ubiquitously employed method for analyzing GSL mixtures of unknown composition. In particular, TLC immunochemical overlay detection allows for sensitive identification of Stx-binding GSLs in complex mixtures directly on the TLC plate. For this purpose, specific anti-GSL antibodies or Stxs themselves in conjunction with anti-Stx antibodies can be used. The described protocols of antibody-mediated detection of TLC-separated globo-series GSLs and corresponding identification of Stx-binding globo-series GSLs will provide detailed advice for successful GSL analysis and particularly highlight the power of the TLC overlay technique.


Johanna Detzner, Gottfried Pohlentz, Johannes Müthing. Thin-Layer Chromatography in Structure and Recognition Studies of Shiga Toxin Glycosphingolipid Receptors. Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.). 2021;2291:229-252

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PMID: 33704756

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