Shiga toxin (Stx) 2e of Stx-producing Escherichia coli
(STEC) is the primary virulence factor in the development of pig edema disease shortly after weaning. Stx2e binds to the globo-series glycosphingolipids (GSLs) globotriaosylceramide (Gb3Cer, Galα1-4Galβ1-4Glcβ1-1Cer) and globotetraosylceramide (Gb4Cer, GalNAcβ1-3Galα1-4Galβ1-4Glcβ1-1Cer), the latter acting as the preferential Stx2e receptor. We determined Stx receptor profiles of 25 different tissues of a male and a female weaned piglet using immunochemical solid phase binding assays combined with mass spectrometry. All probed tissues harbored GSL receptors, ranging from high (category I) over moderate (category II) to low content (category III). Examples of Gb4Cer expression in category I tissues are small intestinal ileum, kidney pelvis and whole blood, followed by colon, small intestinal duodenum and jejunum belonging to category II, and kidney cortex, cerebrum and cerebellum as members of category III organs holding true for both genders. Dominant Gb3Cer and Gb4Cer lipoforms were those with ceramides carrying constant sphingosine (d18:1) and a variable C16:0, C22:0 or C24:1/C24:0 fatty acid. From the mapping data, we created a topographical atlas for Stx2e receptors in piglet tissues and organs, which might be helpful to further investigations on the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie infections of Stx2e-producing STEC in pigs and their zoonotic potential for humans.
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