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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2000 Jun 15;1501(2-3):116-24.

Apparent cooperativity in multivalent verotoxin-globotriaosyl ceramide binding: kinetic and saturation binding studies with [(125)I]verotoxin.

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  • 1Department of Infection, Immunity, Injury and Repair, Research Institute, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ont., Canada.


Verotoxin (VT) binding to the trisaccharide portion of globotriaosyl ceramide (Gb(3)) is believed to be a crucial step in the development of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) commonly known as 'Hamburger disease'. This interaction is the initial step in the binding process and defines the specificity of verotoxin binding to cellular membranes. Although molecular modeling, co-crystallization and co-NMR studies with VT and the trisaccharide moiety of Gb(3) have indicated potential multiple sites for Gb(3) binding, little is known about their direct effects on kinetic and equilibrium binding. Here we describe how the binding of radiolabeled VT ([(125)I]VT1) to Gb(3) in a microtiter well format, is driven by two different association rate constants (k(+1a)=0.0075 and k(+1b)=0.275 min(-1) nM(-1)) with the high affinity site representing 15% of the total specific binding sites. Binding was reversible at room temperature, reached equilibrium after 2-3 h, and non-specific binding was less than 5%. Equilibrium binding studies defined by [(125)I]VT1 saturation binding to 15, 30, 60 and 120 ng Gb(3)/well, showed the presence of a single site with dissociation constants (K(d)s) ranging between 0.5 and 3 nM. However, the maximum density of specific [(125)I]VT1 binding sites (B(max)) did not directly correlate with the Gb(3) concentration per well: the most[(125)I]VT1 binding was observed for 60 ng Gb(3) (B(max)=1.28 nM; compared to 0. 23 nM for 30 ng Gb(3) and 0.65 nM for 120 ng Gb(3)). Furthermore, while Hill coefficients (n(H)) for 15, 30 and 120 ng Gb(3) were close to unity indicating single interactions, for the saturation isotherm for 60 ng Gb(3)/well n(H) was 1.4. Subsequent Scatchard analysis yielded a concave downward curve for [(125)I]VT1 binding to 60 ng Gb(3)/well, suggesting positive co-operativity. We present, for the first time, conclusive binding data confirming the presence of at least two discrete Gb(3) binding sites: these multivalent interactions between verotoxin VT-1 and Gb(3) were described by association reactions driven by two distinct rate constants, as well as by the positive co-operativity governing binding at a restricted receptor concentration. These results imply that the concentration of Gb(3) on the surface of target cells can have a complex, non-linear effect on verotoxin binding and thereby, on sensitivity to cytotoxicity.

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