Construction and characterization of recombinant Vibrio cholerae strains producing inactive cholera toxin analogs

C. C. Hase, L. S. Thai, M. Boesman-Finkelstein, V. L. Mar, W. N. Burnette, H. R. Kaslow, L. A. Stevens, J. Moss, R. A. Finkelstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The catalytic A subunit of cholera toxin (CT-A) is capable of ADP- ribosylating the guanine nucleotide-binding protein, which regulates cell adenylyl cyclase, leading to the life-threatening diarrhea of cholera. Amino acids involved in the enzymatic activity of CT-A have previously been identified. By means of site-directed mutagenesis, an analog of the CT-A subunit gene was created with codon substitutions for both Arg-7 and Glu- 112, each of which has been shown to produce subunits lacking ADP- ribosyltransferase activity. The mutated gene fragment was exchanged for the wild-type copy in the previously cloned ctxAB operon from El Tor biotype, Ogawa serotype Vibrio cholerae strain 3083, which produces CT-2. Further, the zonula occludens toxin gene, zot, was inactivated by an insertional mutation to create the new plasmid construct pCT-2*. Additionally, a DNA fragment encoding the B subunit of CT-1 (CT produced by classical biotype, Inaba serotype V. cholerae strain 569B) was exchanged for the homologous part in pCT-2*, resulting in the creation of pCT-1*. These plasmid constructs were introduced into the CT-negative V. cholerae mutant strain JBK70 (El Tor biotype, Inaba serotype); CT-A-B+ derivatives CVD101 and CVD103 of classical biotype Ogawa and Inaba serotype strains 395 and 569B, respectively; El Tor biotype Inaba and Ogawa serotype strains C6706 and C7258, respectively, recently isolated in Peru; and O139 (synonym Bengal) strain SG25-1 from the current epidemic in India. Recombinant toxins (CT-1* and CT-2*), partially purified from culture supernatants of transformed JBK70, were shown to be inactive on mouse Y1 adrenal tumor cells and in an in vitro ADP-ribosyltransferase assay. CT-1* and CT-2* reacted with polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies against both A and B subunits of CT. The toxin analogs reacted with antibodies against CT-A and CT-B on cellulose acetate strips and in a G(M1) enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay; they reacted appropriately with B-subunit epitype-specific monoclonal antibodies in checkerboard immunoblots, and they formed precipitin bands with G(M1)- ganglioside in Ouchterlony tests. However, the reactions of the modified proteins with anti-A-subunit monoclonal antibodies were weaker than the reactions with wild-type holotoxins. V. cholerae strains carrying ctxA*, with either ctxB-1 or ctxB-2, and inactivated zot genes were created by homologous recombination. The recombinant strains and the purified toxin analogs were inactive in the infant rabbit animal model. These strains may have use as attenuated live vaccines; the analog toxins themselves might have important applications in conjugate vaccines as well as in structure- function studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3051-3057
Number of pages7
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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