125I-labelled heat-labile toxin (from Escherichia coli) and 125I-labelled cholera toxin bound to immobilized ganglioside GM1 and Balb/c 3T3 cell membranes with identical specificities, i.e. each toxin inhibited binding of the other. Binding of both toxins to Balb/c 3T3 cell membranes was saturable, with 50% of maximal binding occurring at 0.3 nM for cholera toxin and 1.1 nM for heat-labile toxin, and the number of sites for each toxin was similar. The results suggest that both toxins recognize the same receptor, namely ganglioside GM1. In contrast, binding of 125I-heat-labile toxin to rabbit intestinal brush borders at 0 degree C was not inhibited by cholera toxin, although heat-labile toxin inhibited 125I-cholera toxin binding. In addition, there were 3-10-fold more binding sites for heat-labile toxin than for cholera toxin. At 37 degrees C cholera toxin, but more particularly its B-subunit, did significantly inhibit 125I-heat-labile toxin binding. Binding of 125I-cholera toxin was saturable, with 50% maximal of binding occurring at 1-2 nM, and was quantitatively inhibited by 10(-8) M unlabelled toxin or B-subunit. By contrast, binding of 125I-heat-labile toxin was non-saturable (up to 5 nM), and 2 × 10(-7) M unlabelled B-subunit was required to quantitatively inhibit binding. Neuraminidase treatment of brush borders increased 125I-cholera toxin but not heat-labile toxin binding. Extensive digestion of membranes with Streptomyces griseus proteinase or papain did not decrease the binding of either toxin. The additional binding sites for heat-labile toxin are not gangliosides. Thin-layer chromatograms of gangliosides which were overlayed with 125I-labelled toxins showed that binding of both toxins was largely restricted to ganglioside GM1. However, 125I-heat-labile toxin was able to bind to brush-border galactoproteins resolved by SDS/polyacrylamide-gel electrophoresis and transferred to nitrocellulose.

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