Structure of a pertussis toxin-sugar complex as a model for receptor binding

Nat Struct Biol. 1994 Sep;1(9):591-6. doi: 10.1038/nsb0994-591.


Pertussis toxin is an exotoxin from the bacterium Bordetella pertussis which is important the pathogenesis of whooping cough and the generation of a protective immune response. The diverse biological activities of the toxin depend on its ability to recognize carbohydrate-containing receptors on a wide variety of eukaryotic cells. We present here the crystal structure of pertussis toxin complexed with a soluble oligosaccharide from transferrin. Binding sites for the terminal sialic acid-galactose moiety are revealed on both subunits S2 and S3 of the B-oligomer. Identification of amino acid residues involved in receptor binding will improve the design of genetically inactivated toxins for use in new acellular whooping cough vaccines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Vaccines / chemical synthesis
  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Crystallography, X-Ray
  • Molecular Conformation
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oligosaccharides / chemistry*
  • Oligosaccharides / metabolism
  • Pertussis Toxin*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism*
  • Transferrin / chemistry*
  • Virulence Factors, Bordetella / chemistry*
  • Virulence Factors, Bordetella / metabolism
  • Whooping Cough / prevention & control


  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Transferrin
  • Virulence Factors, Bordetella
  • pertussis toxin receptor
  • Pertussis Toxin