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Mol Microbiol. 2004 Feb;51(3):631-43.

The HCC-domain of botulinum neurotoxins A and B exhibits a singular ganglioside binding site displaying serotype specific carbohydrate interaction.

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Institute of Biochemistry, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, D-30623 Hannover, Germany.


Tetanus and botulinum neurotoxins selectively invade neurons following binding to complex gangliosides. Recent biochemical experiments demonstrate that two ganglioside binding sites within the tetanus neurotoxin HC-fragment, originally identified in crystallographic studies to bind lactose or sialic acid, are required for productive binding to target cells. Here, we determine by mass spectroscopy studies that the HC-fragment of botulinum neurotoxins A and B bind only one molecule of ganglioside GT1b. Mutations made in the presumed ganglioside binding site of botulinum neurotoxin A and B abolished the formation of these HC-fragment/ganglioside complexes, and drastically diminished binding to neuronal membranes and isolated GT1b. Furthermore, correspondingly mutated full-length neurotoxins exhibit significantly reduced neurotoxicity, thus identifying a single ganglioside binding site within the carboxyl-terminal half of the HC-fragment of botulinum neurotoxins A and B. These binding cavities are defined by the conserved peptide motif H...SXWY...G. The roles of tyrosine and histidine in botulinum neurotoxins A and B in ganglioside binding differ from those in the analogous tetanus neurotoxin lactose site. Hence, these findings provide valuable information for the rational design of potent botulinum neurotoxin binding inhibitors.

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