Diphtheria toxin (DT) receptor associates with a 27-kD membrane protein (DRAP27) in monkey Vero cells. A cDNA encoding DRAP27 was isolated, and its nucleotide sequence was determined. The deduced amino acid sequence revealed that DRAP27 is the monkey homologue of human CD9 antigen. DRAP27 is recognized by CD9 antibodies. A human-mouse hybrid cell line (3279-10) possessing human chromosome 5, sensitive to DT, but not expressing CD9 antigen, was used for transfection experiments with DRAP27. When the cloned cDNA encoding DRAP27 was transiently expressed in 3279-10 cells, the total DT binding capacity was three to four times higher than that of untransfected controls. Transfectants stably expressing DRAP27 have an increased number of DT binding sites on the cell surface. Furthermore, the transfectants are 3-25 times more sensitive to DT than untransfected cells, and the sensitivity of these cells to DT is correlated with the number of DRAP27 molecules on the surface. However, when the cloned cDNA was introduced into mouse cell lines that do not express DT receptors, neither an increased DT binding nor enhancement of DT sensitivity was observed. Hence, we conclude that DRAP27 itself does not bind DT, but serves to increase DT binding and consequently enhances DT sensitivity of cells that have DT receptors. 12 proteins related to DRAP27/CD9 antigen were found through homology search analysis. These proteins appear to belong to a new family of transmembrane proteins.

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