Soluble Toll-Like Receptor 4 Impairs the Interaction of Shiga Toxin 2a with Human Serum Amyloid P Component

Maurizio Brigotti, Valentina Arfilli, Domenica Carnicelli, Francesca Ricci, Pier Luigi Tazzari, Gianluigi Ardissino, Gaia Scavia, Stefano Morabito, Xiaohua He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Shiga toxin 2a (Stx2a) is the main virulence factor produced by pathogenic Escherichia coli strains (Stx-producing E. coli, STEC) responsible for hemorrhagic colitis and the life-threatening sequela hemolytic uremic syndrome in children. The toxin released in the intestine by STEC targets the globotriaosylceramide receptor (Gb3Cer) present on the endothelial cells of the brain and the kidney after a transient blood phase during which Stx2a interacts with blood components, such as neutrophils, which, conversely, recognize Stx through Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4). Among non-cellular blood constituents, human amyloid P component (HuSAP) is considered a negative modulating factor that specifically binds Stx2a and impairs its toxic action. Here, we show that the soluble extracellular domain of TLR4 inhibits the binding of Stx2a to neutrophils, assessed by indirect flow cytometric analysis. Moreover, by using human sensitive Gb3Cer-expressing cells (Raji cells) we found that the complex Stx2a/soluble TLR4 escaped from capture by HuSAP allowing the toxin to target and damage human cells, as assayed by measuring translation inhibition, the typical Stx-induced functional impairment. Thus, soluble TLR4 stood out as a positive modulating factor for Stx2a. In the paper, these findings have been discussed in the context of the pathogenesis of hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberE379
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 18 2018


  • decoy receptors
  • hemolytic uremic syndrome
  • HuSAP
  • Shiga toxins
  • Toll-like receptor 4

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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