Binding at five sites: effective cholera inhibitor based on cholera toxins
Cholera against cholera: a novel inhibitor prevents the cholera toxin from binding to carbohydrates found on the surface of intestinal cells. An international team of researchers has described their elegant concept in the journal Angewandte Chemie:
The protein scaffold of the inhibitor is based on an inactive cholera toxin. It is equipped with five sugar moieties to act as ligands. The inhibitor’s size and number of binding sites are both perfectly matched to the cholera toxin bearing five binding sites.
Cholera is a bacterial infectious disease that is primarily transmitted through insufficiently treated drinking water and contaminated foods. The actual pathogen is a toxin released by the bacteria; it attacks the cells of the intestine and causes life-threatening diarrhea.
Cholera toxin is a protein consisting of a toxic A unit and five nontoxic B units (CTB). Its shape resembles a blossom with five petals. The “petals” are nontoxic, but they bind to special carbohydrates—the oligosaccharide units on glycolipid GM1—on the surface of intestinal cells, initiating uptake of the toxin. Each of the five B subunits possesses a specific binding site for the special sugar motif.
In order to put a stop to the pentavalent cholera toxin, scientist at the University of Leeds (UK), Wageningen University (Netherlands), and King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) have now developed a pentavalent inhibitor. To make it properly fit with its counterpart they fell back on the old principle of “fighting fire with fire”: They used an inactive version of the five “petals” from CTB subunits as the protein scaffold for their inhibitor.
Led by Bruce Turnbull, the researchers induced a mutation in the GM1 binding site of the CTB subunits so that the inhibitor does not bind to the intestinal cells. In addition, a special side chain on each of the “petals” was chemically altered so that they could undergo a coupling reaction by which five ligands were then attached with flexible spacers. The ligands were chosen to be the ideal binding partners for the toxin:
the saccharide units from glycolipid GM1. The advantage of this method is that the inhibitor presents the toxin with five ligands that are in exactly the same distance apart as the five binding sites of the toxin, making it the perfect counterpart. The potency of the new pentavalent inhibitor for its target molecule is thus correspondingly high.
Although the synthesis of the sugar motif is relatively complicated, the protein scaffold can easily be produced genetically on an industrial scale, and can easily be chemically modified and the saccharides attached. The researchers hope that this synthetic technique can be used to develop further multivalent inhibitors for other protein–carbohydrate interactions.
About the Author
Dr. Bruce Turnbull is an Associate Professor in the School of Chemistry and Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology at the University of Leeds. He chairs an EU COST Action network on Multivalent Glycosystems for Nanoscience and was the 2013 recipient of the Royal Society of Chemistry Carbohydrate Award.
Author: W. Bruce Turnbull, University of Leeds (United Kingdom), http://www.chem.leeds.ac.uk/People/Turnbull.html
Title: A Protein-Based Pentavalent Inhibitor of the Cholera Toxin B-Subunit
Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/anie.201404397
W. Bruce Turnbull | GDCh
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy