PloS one

The repertoire of glycosphingolipids recognized by Vibrio cholerae.

PMID 23349777


The binding of cholera toxin to the ganglioside GM1 as the initial step in the process leading to diarrhea is nowadays textbook knowledge. In contrast, the knowledge about the mechanisms for attachment of Vibrio cholerae bacterial cells to the intestinal epithelium is limited. In order to clarify this issue, a large number of glycosphingolipid mixtures were screened for binding of El Tor V. cholerae. Several specific interactions with minor complex non-acid glycosphingolipids were thereby detected. After isolation of binding-active glycosphingolipids, characterization by mass spectrometry and proton NMR, and comparative binding studies, three distinct glycosphingolipid binding patterns were defined. Firstly, V. cholerae bound to complex lacto/neolacto glycosphingolipids with the GlcNAcβ3Galβ4GlcNAc sequence as the minimal binding epitope. Secondly, glycosphingolipids with a terminal Galα3Galα3Gal moiety were recognized, and the third specificity was the binding to lactosylceramide and related compounds. V. cholerae binding to lacto/neolacto glycosphingolipids, and to the other classes of binding-active compounds, remained after deletion of the chitin binding protein GbpA. Thus, the binding of V. cholerae to chitin and to lacto/neolacto containing glycosphingolipids represents two separate binding specificities.