Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Cholera: Fighting Fire with Fire



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.

... more about:
»Cholera »Fighting »GM1 »ligands »sugar

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),

Title: A Protein-Based Pentavalent Inhibitor of the Cholera Toxin B-Subunit

Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Permalink to the article:

W. Bruce Turnbull | GDCh

Further reports about: Cholera Fighting GM1 ligands sugar

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Atom-Sized Craters Make a Catalyst Much More Active
30.11.2015 | SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

nachricht Hydra Can Modify Its Genetic Program
30.11.2015 | Université de Genève (University of Geneva)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: How Cells in the Developing Ear ‘Practice’ Hearing

Before the fluid of the middle ear drains and sound waves penetrate for the first time, the inner ear cells of newborn rodents practice for their big debut. Researchers at Johns Hopkins report they have figured out the molecular chain of events that enables the cells to make “sounds” on their own, essentially “practicing” their ability to process sounds in the world around them.

The researchers, who describe their experiments in the Dec. 3 edition of the journal Cell, show how hair cells in the inner ear can be activated in the absence...

Im Focus: Climate study finds evidence of global shift in the 1980s

Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fuelled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research published this week.

Scientists say that a major step change, or ‘regime shift’, in the Earth’s biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from...

Im Focus: Innovative Photovoltaics – from the Lab to the Façade

Fraunhofer ISE Demonstrates New Cell and Module Technologies on its Outer Building Façade

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE has installed 70 photovoltaic modules on the outer façade of one of its lab buildings. The modules were...

Im Focus: Lactate for Brain Energy

Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate. Scientists of the University of Zurich now provide new support for this. They show for the first time in the intact mouse brain evidence for an exchange of lactate between different brain cells. With this study they were able to confirm a 20-year old hypothesis.

In comparison to other organs, the human brain has the highest energy requirements. The supply of energy for nerve cells and the particular role of lactic acid...

Im Focus: Laser process simulation available as app for first time

In laser material processing, the simulation of processes has made great strides over the past few years. Today, the software can predict relatively well what will happen on the workpiece. Unfortunately, it is also highly complex and requires a lot of computing time. Thanks to clever simplification, experts from Fraunhofer ILT are now able to offer the first-ever simulation software that calculates processes in real time and also runs on tablet computers and smartphones. The fast software enables users to do without expensive experiments and to find optimum process parameters even more effectively.

Before now, the reliable simulation of laser processes was a job for experts. Armed with sophisticated software packages and after many hours on computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

Urbanisation and migration from rural areas challenging agriculture in Eastern Europe

30.11.2015 | Event News

Fraunhofer’s Urban Futures Conference: 2 days in the city of the future

25.11.2015 | Event News

Gluten oder nicht Gluten? Überempfindlichkeit auf Weizen kann unterschiedliche Ursachen haben

17.11.2015 | Event News

Latest News

Teamplay IT solution enables more efficient use of protocols

30.11.2015 | Trade Fair News

Greater efficiency and potentially reduced costs with new MRI applications

30.11.2015 | Trade Fair News

Modular syngo.plaza as a comprehensive solution – even for enterprise radiology

30.11.2015 | Trade Fair News

More VideoLinks >>>