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Biochemistry. 1989 Feb 21;28(4):1744-9.

Primary structure of the peptidoglycan-derived tracheal cytotoxin of Bordetella pertussis.

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Department of Microbiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110.


The etiological agent of whooping cough, Bordetella pertussis, destroys the ciliated epithelial cells lining the large airways of infected individuals. This cytopathology can be reproduced in respiratory epithelium by tracheal cytotoxin (TCT), a small peptidoglycan-related molecule purified from the culture supernatant of growing B. pertussis organisms. Using fast atom bombardment mass spectrometry, we analyzed the positive- and negative-ion spectra of the purified, biologically active material and assigned a mass of 921 daltons to TCT. Analysis of fragment ions in these spectra as well as the spectra of the methyl ester and acetylated derivatives of TCT unambiguously defined the primary structure of TCT as N-acetylglucosaminyl-1,6-anhydro-N-acetylmuramylalanyl-gamma- glutamyldiaminopimelylalanine. TCT is therefore identical with the ciliostatic anhydropeptidoglycan monomer released by Neisseria gonorrhoeae and with the neurologically active slow-wave sleep-promoting factor FSu. These and other structurally related glycopeptides containing muramic acid thus form a family of molecules with remarkably diverse biological activities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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