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Nature. 1992 Feb 20;355(6362):748-50.

Crystal structure of the cell-binding B oligomer of verotoxin-1 from E. coli.

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Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


The Shiga toxin family, a group of cytotoxins associated with diarrhoeal diseases and the haemolytic uraemic syndrome, includes Shiga toxin from Shigella dysenteriae type 1 and verotoxins produced by enteropathogenic Escherichia coli. The family belongs to the A-B class of bacterial toxins, which includes the cholera toxin family, pertussis and diphtheria toxins. These toxins all have bipartite structures consisting of an enzymatic A subunit associated with a B oligomer which binds to specific cell-surface receptors, but their amino-acid sequences and pathogenic mechanisms differ. We have determined the crystal structure of the B oligomer of verotoxin-1 from E. coli. The structure unexpectedly resembles that of the B oligomer of the cholera toxin-like heat-labile enterotoxin from E. coli, despite the absence of detectable sequence similarity between these two proteins. This result implies a distant evolutionary relationship between the Shiga toxin and cholera toxin families. We suggest that the cell surface receptor-binding site lies in a cleft between adjacent subunits of the B pentamer, providing a potential target for drugs and vaccines to prevent toxin binding and effect.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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