Clostridial neurotoxins are comprised of botulinum (BoNT) and tetanus (TeNT), which share significant structural and functional similarity. Crystal structures of the binding domain of TeNT complexed with disialyllactose (DiSia) and a tri-peptide Tyr-Glu-Trp (YEW) have been determined to 2.3 and 2.2 A, respectively. Both DiSia and YEW bind in a shallow cleft region on the surface of the molecule in the beta-trefoil domain, interacting with a set of common residues, Asp1147, Asp1214, Asn1216, and Arg1226. DiSia and YEW binding at the same site in tetanus toxin provides a putative site that could be occupied either by a ganglioside moiety or a peptide. Soaking experiments with a mixture of YEW and DiSia show that YEW competes with DiSia, suggesting that YEW can be used to block ganglioside binding. A comparison with the TeNT binding domain in complex with small molecules, BoNT/A and /B, provides insight into the different modes of ganglioside binding.
Copyright 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.