Mechanisms underlying the confined diffusion of cholera toxin B-subunit in intact cell membranes.

Charles A. Day, Anne K. Kenworthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Multivalent glycolipid binding toxins such as cholera toxin have the capacity to cluster glycolipids, a process thought to be important for their functional uptake into cells. In contrast to the highly dynamic properties of lipid probes and many lipid-anchored proteins, the B-subunit of cholera toxin (CTxB) diffuses extremely slowly when bound to its glycolipid receptor GM(1) in the plasma membrane of living cells. In the current study, we used confocal FRAP to examine the origins of this slow diffusion of the CTxB/GM(1) complex at the cell surface, relative to the behavior of a representative GPI-anchored protein, transmembrane protein, and fluorescent lipid analog. We show that the diffusion of CTxB is impeded by actin- and ATP-dependent processes, but is unaffected by caveolae. At physiological temperature, the diffusion of several cell surface markers is unchanged in the presence of CTxB, suggesting that binding of CTxB to membranes does not alter the organization of the plasma membrane in a way that influences the diffusion of other molecules. Furthermore, diffusion of the B-subunit of another glycolipid-binding toxin, Shiga toxin, is significantly faster than that of CTxB, indicating that the confined diffusion of CTxB is not a simple function of its ability to cluster glycolipids. By identifying underlying mechanisms that control CTxB dynamics at the cell surface, these findings help to delineate the fundamental properties of toxin-receptor complexes in intact cell membranes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPloS one
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Mechanisms underlying the confined diffusion of cholera toxin B-subunit in intact cell membranes.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this