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Infect Immun. 1988 Jul;56(7):1748-53.

Comparison of the carbohydrate-binding specificities of cholera toxin and Escherichia coli heat-labile enterotoxins LTh-I, LT-IIa, and LT-IIb.

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Laboratory of Structural Biology, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


The heat-labile enterotoxins of Vibrio cholerae and Escherichia coli are related in structure and function. They are oligomers consisting of A and B polypeptide subunits. They bind to gangliosides, and they activate adenylate cyclase. The toxins form two antigenically distinct groups; members of each group cross-react but are not necessarily identical. Serogroup I includes cholera toxin (CT) and type I heat-labile enterotoxin (LT-I) of E. coli. LTh-I and LTp-I are antigenic variants of LT-I produced by strains of E. coli from humans and pigs, respectively. Serogroup II contains the type II heat-labile enterotoxin (LT-II) of E. coli. Two antigenic variants designated LT-IIa and LT-IIb have been described. The binding of CT, LTh-I, LT-IIa, and LT-IIb to gangliosides was analyzed by immunostaining thin-layer chromatograms and by solid-phase radioimmunoassay. The four toxins have different glycolipid-binding specificities. LTh-I and CT bind strongly to ganglioside GM1 and less strongly to ganglioside GD1b. However, LTh-I, unlike CT, also binds weakly to GM2 and asialo GM1. LTh-I, like CT, probably binds to the terminal sugar sequence Gal beta 1-3GalNAc beta 1-4(NeuAc alpha 2-3)Gal . . ., where GalNAc is N-acetylgalactosamine and NeuAc is N-acetylneuraminic acid. LT-IIa probably binds to the same sugar sequence to which CT and LTh-I bind, with the additional contribution to binding of a second NeuAc as in GD1b and GD2. Also, LT-IIa must bind the Gal beta 1-3GalNAc . . . sequence in such a way that its binding is relatively unaffected by attachment of NeuAc to the terminal galactose residue as in GD1a, GT1b, and GQ1b. LT-IIb probably binds to the terminal sugar sequence NeuAc alpha 2-3Gal beta 1-4GalNAc . . ., as it binds to gangliosides GD1a and GT1b but not to GM1.

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