Functional defects in TcdB toxin uptake identify CSPG4 receptor-binding determinants.


is a major nosocomial pathogen that produces two exotoxins, TcdA and TcdB, with TcdB thought to be the primary determinant in human disease. TcdA and TcdB are large, multidomain proteins, each harboring a cytotoxic glucosyltransferase domain that is delivered into the cytosol from endosomes via a translocation domain after receptor-mediated endocytosis of toxins from the cell surface. Although there are currently no known host cell receptors for TcdA, three cell-surface receptors for TcdB have been identified: CSPG4, NECTIN3, and FZD1/2/7. The sites on TcdB that mediate binding to each receptor are not defined. Furthermore, it is not known whether the combined repetitive oligopeptide (CROP) domain is involved in or required for receptor binding. Here, in a screen designed to identify sites in TcdB that are essential for target cell intoxication, we identified a region at the junction of the translocation and the CROP domains that is implicated in CSPG4 binding. Using a series of C-terminal truncations, we show that the CSPG4-binding site on TcdB extends into the CROP domain, requiring three short repeats for binding and for full toxicity on CSPG4-expressing cells. Consistent with the location of the CSPG4-binding site on TcdB, we show that the anti-TcdB antibody bezlotoxumab, which binds partially within the first three short repeats, prevents CSPG4 binding to TcdB. In addition to establishing the binding region for CSPG4, this work ascribes for the first time a role in TcdB CROPs in receptor binding and further clarifies the relative roles of host receptors in TcdB pathogenesis.