The Journal of biological chemistry

Diphtheria toxin receptor. Identification of specific diphtheria toxin-binding proteins on the surface of Vero and BS-C-1 cells.

PMID 3654609


The biochemical characteristics of specific receptor molecules for diphtheria toxin on the surface of two toxin-sensitive cell lines (Vero and BS-C-1) were examined. Diphtheria toxin was found to bind to a number of different proteins in Nonidet P-40 solubilized extracts of 125I-labeled cells. In contrast, permitting diphtheria toxin to bind first to labeled intact cells, which were subsequently solubilized and subjected to immunoprecipitation with anti-diphtheria toxin, resulted in a far more restricted profile of diphtheria toxin-binding proteins that possessed Mrs in the range of 10,000-20,000. Direct chemical cross-linking of radioiodinated diphtheria toxin to cell surface proteins resulted in the appearance of several predominant bands possessing Mrs of approximately 80,000. The Mr approximately 80,000 complexes were shown to be composed of radiolabeled diphtheria toxin (Mr 60,000) and unlabeled Mr approximately 20,000 cellular proteins. These complexes were judged to be a result of specific binding in that their appearance could be preferentially inhibited by the addition of a 100-fold excess of unlabeled diphtheria toxin. The formation of the Mr approximately 80,000 complexes was sensitive to prior trypsin treatment of the cells and to known inhibitors of diphtheria toxin binding. Furthermore, prior incubation of the cells with diphtheria toxin at 37 degrees C ("down regulation") markedly and specifically reduced the subsequent formation of the Mr approximately 80,000 cross-linked complexes, and these down-regulated cells were less sensitive to diphtheria toxin in cytotoxicity assays. Further incubation of down-regulated cells at 37 degrees C restored their ability to form Mr approximately 80,000 complexes; this regeneration requires protein synthesis and restores the cells' sensitivity to diphtheria toxin-mediated cytotoxicity. These results strongly suggest that a Mr 10,000-20,000 cell surface protein is, or constitutes a portion of, the functional diphtheria toxin receptor.