Author(s): Singh AK, Harrison SH, Schoeniger JS
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Abstract Gangliosides, glycosphingolipids present in the membranes of neuronal and other cells, are natural receptors for a number of bacterial toxins and viruses whose sensitive detection is of interest in clinical medicine as well as in biological warfare or terrorism incidents. Liposomes containing gangliosides mimic cells that are invaded by bacterial toxins and can be used as sensitive probes for detecting these toxins. We discuss detection of three bacterial toxins-tetanus, botulinum, and cholera toxins using ganglioside-bearing liposomes. Tetanus and botulinum toxins selectively bind gangliosides of the G1b series, namely, GT1b, GD1b, and GQ1b; and cholera toxin binds GM1 very specifically. Unilamellar liposomes containing GT1b or GM1 as one of the constituent lipids were prepared by extrusion through polycarbonate membranes. To impart signal generation capability to these liposomes, fluorophore-labeled lipids were incorporated in the bilayer of liposomes. The fluorescent liposomes, containing both a marker (rhodamine) and a receptor (GT1b or GM1) in the bilayer, were used in sandwich fluoroimmunoassays for tetanus, botulinum, and cholera toxins and as low as 1 nM of each toxin could be detected. The apparent dissociation constants of liposome-toxin complexes were in 10(-8) M range, indicating strong binding. This is the first report on detection of tetanus and botulinum toxins based on specific recognition by gangliosides. The fluorescent liposomes are attractive as immunoreagents for another reason as well--they provide enormous signal amplification for each binding event as each liposome contains up to 22,000 rhodamine molecules. The present approach using receptors incorporated in bilayers of liposomes offers a unique solution to employ water-insoluble receptors, such as glycolipids and membrane proteins, for sensitive detection of toxins and other clinically important biomolecules.
This article was published in Anal Chem
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