Toxin binding site of the diphtheria toxin receptor: Loss and gain of diphtheria toxin binding of monkey and mouse heparin-binding, epidermal growth factor-like growth factor precursors by reciprocal site-directed mutagenesis

Jeong Heon Cha, Joanna S. Brooke, Leon Eidels

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The transmembrane precursor of the monkey (Mk) heparin-binding, epidermal growth factor-like growth factor (proHB-EGF) functions as a diphtheria toxin (DT) receptor, whereas the mouse (Ms) precursor does not. Previously, using chimeric Ms/Mk precursors, we have shown that DT resistance of cells bearing Ms proHB-EGF may be accounted for by several amino acid substitutions between residues 122 and 148 within the EGF-like domain and that Glu-141 is an important amino acid residue for DT binding. In this study, reciprocal site-directed mutagenesis was performed on the major non-conserved residues in the region of 122-148, alone or in combination, between Mk and Ms precursors to identify more precisely which amino acid residues are important for DT binding. Two approaches were used. The first, more traditional approach was to destroy DT sensitivity and binding of Mk proHB-EGF by substitution(s) with the corresponding Ms residue(s). From the single mutations, the greatest loss of DT sensitivity was observed with Mk/Glu-141His (approximately 4000-fold) and the next greatest with Mk/Ile-133Lys (approximately fourfold). The double mutations Mk/Leu-177Phe/Glu-141His, Mk/Ile-133Lys/Glu-141His and Mk/His-135Leu/Glu-141His resulted in complete toxin resistance (>100,000-fold). The second approach, both novel and complementary, was to gain DT binding and sensitivity of Ms proHB-EGF by substitution(s) with the corresponding Mk residue(s). Surprisingly, the single mutation Ms/His-141Glu resulted in the gain of moderate DT sensitivity (> 260-fold). The double mutation Ms/Lys-133Ile/His-141Glu and the triple mutation Ms/Lys-133Ile/Leu-135His/His-141Glu resulted in a progressive gain in toxin sensitivity (> 4700-fold and > 16,000-fold respectively) and affinity. This triple mutant cell line is essentially as sensitive (IC50 = 3.1 ng ml-1) as the highly toxin-sensitive monkey Vero cell line (IC50 = 4 ng ml-1), indicating that these three Mk residues enable the Ms proHB-EGF to act as a fully functional DT receptor. Taken together, these results indicate that Glu-141 plays the most critical role in DT binding and sensitivity and that two additional amino acid residues, Ile-133 and His-135, also play significant roles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1275-1284
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1998 Sep 14


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology

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