The binding of ShigeUa dysenteriae 1 cytotoxin to HeLa cells in culture and to isolated rat liver cell membranes was studied by means of an indirect consumption assay of toxicity from the medium, or by determination of cytotoxicity to the HeLa cell monolayer. Both liver cell membranes and HeLa cells removed toxicity from the medium during incubation, in contrast to WI-38 and Y-1 mouse adrenal tumor cells, both of which neither bound nor were affected by the toxin. Uptake of toxin was directly related to concentration of membranes added, time,and temperature, and indirectly related to the ionic strength of the buffer used.

The chemical nature of the membrane receptor was characterized by using three principal approaches: (a) enzymatic sensitivity; (b) competitive inhibition and (c) receptor blockade studies. The receptor was destroyed by proteolytic enzymes, phospholipases (which markedly altered the gross appearance of the membrane preparation) and by lysozyme, but not by a variety of other enzymes. Of 28 carbohydrate and glycoprotein haptens studied, including cholera toxin and ganglioside, only the chitin oligosaccharide lysozyme substrates, per N-acetylated chitotriose, chitotetraose, and chitopentaose were effective competitive inhibitors. Greatest inhibition was found with the trimer, N, N', N" triacetyl chitotriose. Of three lectins studied as possible receptor blockers, including phytohemagglutinin, concanavalin A, and wheat germ agglutinin, only the latter, which is known to possess specific binding affinity for N, N', N" triacetyl chitotriose, was able to block toxin uptake.

Evidence from all three approaches indicate, therefore, existence of a glycoprotein toxin receptor on mammalian cells, with involvement of oligomeric β1{arrow}4-1inked N-acetyl glucosamine in the receptor. This receptor is clearly distinct from the G(M1) ganglioside thought to be involved in the binding of cholera toxin to the cell membrane of a variety of cell types susceptible to its action.

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