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Choleragen (cholera toxin): a bacterial lectin.

  • R L Richards
  • J Moss
  • C R Alving
  • P H Fishman
  • R O Brady
Publication Date
Apr 01, 1979


Choleragen (cholera toxin) agglutinated erythrocytes and liposomes containing the toxin receptor, galactosyl-N-acetylgalactosaminyl-(N-acetylneuraminyl)-galactosylglucosylceramide (ganglioside GM1). Cells that had been exposed to GM1 were agglutinated, but agglutination was not observed when cells had been exposed to other gangliosides (GM2, GM3, GD1a, GD1b). Choleragen-dependent agglutination of liposomes was slightly less specific, because liposomes containing either GM1 or GD1b, but neither GM2, GD1a, nor GM3 were agglutinated. The oligosaccharide isolated from GM1 inhibited both the agglutination of cells and liposomes containing GM1 and the binding of choleragen to liposomes containing GM1. Galactose and sialic acid were less effective inhibitors of liposomal agglutination and did not inhibit cellular agglutination or binding of choleragen to liposomes. Liposomal agglutination was dependent on choleragen concentration and occurred with the B but not the A protomer of choleragen. These results suggest that choleragen, through its binding to the oligosaccharide portion of a glycolipid, exhibits lectinlike activity, which results in agglutination of liposomes and erythrocytes.

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