Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), a hematopoietic stem cell disorder, is caused by the loss of glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored proteins on the cell membrane. PNH can be simply diagnosed by flow cytometry using monoclonal antibodies against GPI-anchored proteins or fluorescent-tagged aerolysin, a bacterial toxin that binds GPI anchored proteins. Clostridium septicum alpha toxin is homologous to aerolysin and specifically binds GPI-anchored proteins. Previously, we found that an alpha toxin m45 mutant with two amino acid changes, S189C/S238C, lost cytotoxicity but still possessed binding activity for GPI-anchored proteins. To use this mutant toxin as a diagnostic probe in flow cytometry, we constructed the EGFP-AT(m45) expression vector, comprising a S189C/S238C alpha toxin mutant with EGFP and His tags at the N and C termini, respectively. The recombinant EGFP-AT(m45) was easily purified using single-step affinity chromatography against His tag from Escherichia coli. EGFP-AT(m45) bound to CHO and HeLa cells in a similar manner to monoclonal antibodies against GPI-anchored proteins or aerolysin. In whole blood from a PNH patient, GPI-deficient granulocytes could be differentiated by EGFP-AT(m45) using the same procedure as that employed with commercially available monoclonal antibodies. Therefore, nontoxic EGFP-conjugated C. septicum alpha toxin could be used clinically for PNH diagnosis.
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