Identification of the carbohydrate receptor for Shiga toxin produced by Shigella dysenteriae type 1

J Biol Chem. 1987 Feb 5;262(4):1779-85.


The binding of Shiga toxin isolated from the bacterium Shigella dysenteriae type 1 to a series of glycolipids and to cells or cell homogenates has been studied. Bound toxin was detected using either 125I-labeled toxin or specific monoclonal antibody and 125I-labeled anti-antibody. Overlay of toxin on thin-layer chromatograms with separated glycolipids and binding to glycolipids coated in microtiter wells established that the toxin specifically bound to Gal alpha 1-4Gal beta (galabiose) placed terminally or internally in the oligosaccharide chain. No glycolipid shown to lack this sequence binds the toxin. Most of the glycolipids with internally placed galabiose were not active, indicating a sterical hindrance for toxin access to the binding epitope. Binding of toxin to HeLa cells in monolayers could be inhibited by preincubation of the toxin with galabiose covalently linked to bovine serum albumin (BSA), but not with free oligosaccharides containing galabiose or with lactose coupled to BSA. This demonstrated that the inhibition is specifically dependent on galabiose and requires multivalency of the disaccharide to be efficient. The inhibitory effect was successively enhanced by increasing the substitution on BSA (7, 18, and 25 mol of galabiose/mol of BSA). The BSA-coupled galabiose could also prevent the cytotoxic effect on HeLa cells (detachment of killed cells). There are cell lines with a dense number of receptor sites, but which are resistant to toxin action (uptake and inhibition of protein synthesis) which may suggest two types of receptor substances which are functionally different and unevenly expressed. In analogy with the mechanism earlier formulated for cholera toxin, we propose glycolipid-bound, bilayer-close galabiose as the functional receptor for membrane penetration of the toxin, while galabiose bound in glycoproteins affords binding sites but is not able to mediate penetration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Toxins / metabolism
  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Cell Line
  • Chromatography, Thin Layer
  • Glycolipids / metabolism
  • HeLa Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Cell Surface*
  • Receptors, Immunologic / analysis*
  • Shiga Toxins
  • Shigella dysenteriae


  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Glycolipids
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Immunologic
  • Shiga Toxins
  • shigella toxin receptor