Separation of function between the domains of toxic shock syndrome toxin-1

Jennifer L. Wahlsten, S. Ramakrishnan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Toxic shock syndrome toxin-1 (TSST1) is a superantigenic exotoxin produced by certain strains of Staphylococcus aureus. Structurally, TSST1 is composed of two domains: residues determined by crystallography to directly interact with MHC II molecules reside within the N-terminal domain, while TSST1 residues critical for superantigenicity are within the C-terminal domain. In this study, we expressed the individual N- and C-terminal domains of TSST1 in Escherichia coli and studied their biologic activities. The TSST1 N-terminal domain (TSST(1-87)) did not induce proliferation of human PBLs or release of TNF-β, but did induce TNF-α, release. However, TSST1-elicited proliferation and release of both TNF isoforms were inhibited by a molar excess of TSST(1-87). The TSST1 C-terminal domain (TSST(88-194)) did not bind MHC II molecules, yet it elicited production of TNF-α and TNF-β, and induced TCR Vβ-specific proliferation similarly to intact TSST1. When covalently cross-linked to tumor cells, TSST(88-194) elicited a local in vivo antitumor response indistinguishable from TSST1. Although intact TSST1 causes lethal shock in vivo, the individual domains of this molecule may have therapeutic potential: the N-terminal domain to antagonize lymphocyte activation and TNF release during acute TSST1-precipitated toxic shock syndrome, and the C-terminal domain to stimulate antitumor responses without MHC II binding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)854-859
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 1998


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