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J Cell Biol. 2002 Oct 28;159(2):207-16. Epub 2002 Oct 28.

Unfolded cholera toxin is transferred to the ER membrane and released from protein disulfide isomerase upon oxidation by Ero1.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, 240 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The toxic effect of cholera toxin (CT) on target cells is caused by its A1 chain. This polypeptide is released from the holotoxin and unfolded in the lumen of the ER by the action of protein disulfide isomerase (PDI), before being retrotranslocated into the cytosol. The polypeptide is initially unfolded by binding to the reduced form of PDI. We show that upon oxidation of the COOH-terminal disulfide bond in PDI by the enzyme Ero1, the A1 chain is released. Both yeast Ero1 and the mammalian Ero1alpha isoform are active in this reaction. Ero1 has a preference for the PDI-toxin complex. We further show that the complex is transferred to a protein at the lumenal side of the ER membrane, where the unfolded toxin is released from PDI by the action of Ero1. Taken together, our results identify Ero1 as the enzyme mediating the release of unfolded CT from PDI and characterize an additional step in retrotranslocation of the toxin.

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