Biochemical and biophysical research communications

Crystal structure of the receptor binding domain of the botulinum C-D mosaic neurotoxin reveals potential roles of lysines 1118 and 1136 in membrane interactions.

PMID 21130733


The botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) produced by different strains of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum are responsible for the disease botulism and include a group of immunologically distinct serotypes (A, B, E, and F) that are considered to be the most lethal natural proteins known for humans. Two BoNT serotypes, C and D, while rarely associated with human infection, are responsible for deadly botulism outbreaks afflicting animals. Also associated with animal infections is the BoNT C-D mosaic protein (BoNT/CD), a BoNT subtype that is essentially a hybrid of the BoNT/C (∼two-third) and BoNT/D (∼one-third) serotypes. While the amino acid sequence of the heavy chain receptor binding (HCR) domain of BoNT/CD (BoNT/CD-HCR) is very similar to the corresponding amino acid sequence of BoNT/D, BoNT/CD-HCR binds synaptosome membranes better than BoNT/D-HCR. To obtain structural insights for the different membrane binding properties, the crystal structure of BoNT/CD-HCR (S867-E1280) was determined at 1.56 Å resolution and compared to previously reported structures for BoNT/D-HCR. Overall, the BoNT/CD-HCR structure is similar to the two sub-domain organization observed for other BoNT HCRs: an N-terminal jellyroll barrel motif and a C-terminal β-trefoil fold. Comparison of the structure of BoNT/CD-HCR with BoNT/D-HCR indicates that K1118 has a similar structural role as the equivalent residue, E1114, in BoNT/D-HCR, while K1136 has a structurally different role than the equivalent residue, G1132, in BoNT/D-HCR. Lysine-1118 forms a salt bridge with E1247 and may enhance membrane interactions by stabilizing the putative membrane binding loop (K1240-N1248). Lysine-1136 is observed on the surface of the protein. A sulfate ion bound to K1136 may mimic a natural interaction with the negatively changed phospholipid membrane surface. Liposome-binding experiments demonstrate that BoNT/CD-HCR binds phosphatidylethanolamine liposomes more tightly than BoNT/D-HCR.