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J Biol Chem. 1999 Apr 16;274(16):11046-52.

A novel cytotoxin from Clostridium difficile serogroup F is a functional hybrid between two other large clostridial cytotoxins.

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  • 1Microbiology and Tumorbiology Center, Karolinska Institutet, S-171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.


The large clostridial cytotoxins (LCTs) constitute a group of high molecular weight clostridial cytotoxins that inactivate cellular small GTP-binding proteins. We demonstrate that a novel LCT (TcdB-1470) from Clostridium difficile strain 1470 is a functional hybrid between "reference" TcdB-10463 and Clostridium sordellii TcsL-1522. It bound to the same specific receptor as TcdB-10463 but glucosylated the same GTP-binding proteins as TcsL-1522. All three toxins had equal enzymatic potencies but were equally cytotoxic only when microinjected. When applied extracellularly TcdB-1470 and TcdB-10463 were considerably more potent cytotoxins than TcsL-1522. The small GTP-binding protein R-Ras was identified as a target for TcdB-1470 and also for TcsL-1522 but not for TcdB-10463. R-Ras is known to control integrin-extracellular matrix interactions from inside the cell. Its glucosylation may be a major determinant for the cell rounding and detachment induced by the two R-Ras-attacking toxins. In contrast, fibroblasts treated with TcdB-10463 were arborized and remained attached, with phosphotyrosine containing structures located at the cell-to-cell contacts and beta3-integrin remaining at the tips of cellular protrusions. These components were absent from cells treated with the R-Ras-inactivating toxins. The novel hybrid toxin will broaden the utility of the LCTs for clarifying the functions of several small GTPases, now including also R-Ras.

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