Preincubation of Vero cells with 1 microM phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) decreased the specific binding of diphtheria toxin by about 50%, whereas the toxic effect, endocytic uptake and membrane translocation were completely blocked. Toxin bound to PMA-treated cells was released upon incubation with heparinase. The effect of PMA was abrogated in the presence of EDTA or N-(DL-[2-(hydroxyaminocarbonyl)methyl]-4-methyl-pentanoyl)-L-3-(2′ - naphthyl)-alanyl-L-alanine 2-aminoethyl-amide (TAPI), a specific inhibitor of matrix metalloproteases. The results indicate that PMA induces proteolytic cleavage of the diphtheria-toxin receptor [heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF)-precursor] outside the membrane anchor, and that about 50% of the growth-factor ecto-domain remains associated with the cells, due to binding to surface proteoglycans containing heparan sulphates. Although the cleaved cell-associated HB-EGF binds diphtheria toxin, it does not serve as a functional receptor, since neither toxin internalization nor translocation occurs. Thus the intact HB-EGF precursor is of crucial importance for its function as the diphtheria-toxin receptor.
- © 1995 The Biochemical Society, London