Identification of a ganglioside recognition domain of tetanus toxin using a novel ganglioside photoaffinity ligand

Robert E. Shapiro, Chelsea D. Specht, Brian E. Collins, Amina S. Woods, Robert J. Cotter, Ronald L. Schnaar

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77 Scopus citations


Tetanus toxin entry into vertebrate motorneurons may involve binding of neuronal surface gangliosides containing the '1b' substructure (a NeuAcα2,8NeuAc group on an internal galactose residue). The domains of tetanus toxin involved in ganglioside binding are known to reside within the carboxyl-terminal half of the toxin's heavy chain ('C fragment'). We developed a novel photoaffinity reagent based upon the structure of the lb ganglioside G(D1b) (125I-azido-G(D1b)) to define the ganglioside-binding domains of tetanus toxin. Using this ligand, we observed radiolabeling of tetanus toxin C fragment which could be specifically inhibited by a ganglioside of the 1b series (G(T1b)), but not by a non-1b series ganglioside (G(M3)). When tetanus toxin C fragment was proteolyzed with clostripain, whether before or after reaction with 125I-azido-G(D1b), a radiolabeled band was observed by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis autoradiography, which was selectively inhibited by G(T1b). Protein sequencing of proteolyzed tetanus toxin C fragment co-migrating with that band revealed the carboxylterminal 34 amine acid residues of tetanus toxin. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization mass spectrometry of a photoaffinity labeled synthetic polypeptide representing the 34-amino acid domain revealed modification at a single residue (His1293). We propose that this domain of tetanus toxin is sufficient for ganglioside binding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30380-30386
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number48
StatePublished - Nov 28 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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