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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Jul 23;93(15):7882-7.

Pore-forming toxins trigger shedding of receptors for interleukin 6 and lipopolysaccharide.

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Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany.


Cleavage of membrane-associated proteins with the release of biologically active macromolecules is an emerging theme in biology. However, little is known about the nature and regulation of the involved proteases or about the physiological inducers of the shedding process. We here report that rapid and massive shedding of the interleukin 6 receptor (IL-6R) and the lipopolysaccharide receptor (CD14) occurs from primary and transfected cells attacked by two prototypes of pore-forming bacterial toxins, streptolysin O and Escherichia coli hemolysin. Shedding is not induced by an streptolysin O toxin mutant which retains cell binding capacity but lacks pore-forming activity. The toxin-dependent cleavage site of the IL-6R was mapped to a position close to, but distinct from, that observed after stimulation with phorbol myristate acetate. Soluble IL-6R that was shed from toxin-treated cells bound its ligand and induced an IL-6-specific signal in cells that primarily lacked the IL-6R. Transsignaling by soluble IL-6R and soluble CD14 is known to dramatically broaden the spectrum of host cells for IL-6 and lipopolysaccharide, and is thus an important mechanism underlying their systemic inflammatory effects. Our findings uncover a novel mechanism that can help to explain the long-range detrimental action of pore-forming toxins in the host organism.

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