Perfringolysin O, a cholesterol-binding cytolysin, as a probe for lipid rafts

Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, 35-2 Sakae-cho, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo, Japan.
Anaerobe (Impact Factor: 2.48). 05/2004; 10(2):125-34. DOI: 10.1016/j.anaerobe.2003.09.003
Source: PubMed


Gaining an understanding of the structural and functional roles of cholesterol in membrane lipid rafts is a critical issue in studies on cellular signaling and because of the possible involvement of lipid rafts in various diseases. We have focused on the potential of perfringolysin O (theta-toxin), a cholesterol-binding cytolysin produced by Clostridium perfringens, as a probe for studies on membrane cholesterol. We prepared a protease-nicked and biotinylated derivative of perfringolysin O (BCtheta) that binds selectively to cholesterol in cholesterol-rich microdomains of cell membranes without causing membrane lesions. Since the domains fulfill the criteria of lipid rafts, BCtheta can be used to detect cholesterol-rich lipid rafts. This is in marked contrast to filipin, another cholesterol-binding reagent, which binds indiscriminately to cell cholesterol. Using BCtheta, we are now searching for molecules that localize specifically in cholesterol-rich lipid rafts. Recently, we demonstrated that the C-terminal domain of perfringolysin O, domain 4 (D4), possesses the same binding characteristics as BCtheta. BIAcore analysis showed that D4 binds specifically to cholesterol with the same binding affinity as the full-size toxin. Cell-bound D4 is recovered predominantly from detergent-insoluble, low-density membrane fractions where raft markers, such as cholesterol, flotillin and Src family kinases, are enriched, indicating that D4 also binds selectively to lipid rafts. Furthermore, a green fluorescent protein-D4 fusion protein (GFP-D4) was revealed to be useful for real-time monitoring of cholesterol in lipid rafts in the plasma membrane. In addition, the expression of GFP-D4 in the cytoplasm might allow the investigations of intracellular trafficking of lipid rafts. The simultaneous visualization of lipid rafts in plasma membranes and inside cells might help in gaining a total understanding of the dynamic behavior of lipid rafts.

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    • "The recombinant protein preserves the lytic activity of the native toxin and causes an efflux of 6-carboxyfluorescein from cholesterol-containing liposomes, but not from those devoid of cholesterol (Figure 1B). PFO binds to membranes and causes their permeabilization when the cholesterol content exceeds 30 mol% [25,26]. Therefore, the deposits of cholesterol in NPC cells make them preferable targets of GST-PFO. "
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    ABSTRACT: Niemann-Pick disease type C (NPC) is caused by defects in cholesterol efflux from lysosomes due to mutations of genes coding for NPC1 and NPC2 proteins. As a result, massive accumulation of unesterified cholesterol in late endosomes/lysosomes is observed. At the level of the organism these cholesterol metabolism disorders are manifested by progressive neurodegeneration and hepatosplenomegaly. Until now filipin staining of cholesterol deposits in cells has been widely used for NPC diagnostics. In this report we present an alternative method for cholesterol visualization and estimation using a cholesterol-binding bacterial toxin, perfringolysin O. To detect cholesterol deposits, a recombinant probe, perfringolysin O fused with glutathione S-transferase (GST-PFO) was prepared. GST-PFO followed by labeled antibodies or streptavidin was applied for immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy to analyze cholesterol distribution in cells derived from NPC patients. The identity of GST-PFO-positive structures was revealed by a quantitative analysis of their colocalization with several organelle markers. Cellular ELISA using GST-PFO was developed to estimate the level of unesterified cholesterol in NPC cells. GST-PFO recognized cholesterol with high sensitivity and selectivity, as demonstrated by a protein/lipid overlay assay and surface plasmon resonance analysis. When applied to stain NPC cells, GST-PFO decorated abundant deposits of cholesterol in intracellular vesicles that colocalized with filipin-positive structures. These cholesterol deposits were resistant to 0.05%-0.2% Triton X-100 used for cells permeabilization in the staining procedure. GST-PFO-stained organelles were identified as late endosomes/lysosomes based on their colocalization with LAMP-1 and lysobisphosphatidic acid. On the other hand, GST-PFO did not colocalize with markers of the Golgi apparatus, endoplasmic reticulum, peroxisomes or with actin filaments. Only negligible GST-PFO staining was seen in fibroblasts of healthy individuals. When applied to cellular ELISA, GST-PFO followed by anti-GST-peroxidase allowed a semiquantitative analysis of cholesterol level in cells of NPC patients. Binding of GST-PFO to NPC cells was nearly abolished after extraction of cholesterol with methyl-beta-cyclodextrin. Our data indicate that a recombinant protein GST-PFO can be used to detect cholesterol accumulated in NPC cells by immunofluorescence and cellular ELISA. GST-PFO can be a convenient and reliable probe for revealing cholesterol deposits in cells and can be useful in diagnostics of NPC disease.
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    • "Using PFO-D4, we showed in both live murine and human sperm that the APM was enriched in sterols. PFO-D4 was first introduced as a tool to study membrane sterols by Fujimoto et al. (Fujimoto et al., 1997; Ohno-Iwashita et al., 2004). Since then, several studies have utilized this toxin to detect cholesterol-rich membrane microdomains in live cells (Hayashi et al., 2006; Koseki et al., 2007). "
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