Genome-wide CRISPR screens for Shiga toxins and ricin reveal Golgi proteins critical for glycosylation

by Songhai Tian, Khaja Muneeruddin, Mei Yuk Choi, Liang Tao, Robiul H. Bhuiyan, Yuhsuke Ohmi, Keiko Furukawa, Koichi Furukawa, Sebastian Boland, Scott A. Shaffer, Rosalyn M. Adam, Min Dong

Glycosylation is a fundamental modification of proteins and membrane lipids. Toxins that utilize glycans as their receptors have served as powerful tools to identify key players in glycosylation processes. Here, we carried out Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR)-Cas9–mediated genome-wide loss-of-function screens using two related bacterial toxins, Shiga-like toxins (Stxs) 1 and 2, which use a specific glycolipid, globotriaosylceramide (Gb3), as receptors, and the plant toxin ricin, which recognizes a broad range of glycans. The Stxs screens identified major glycosyltransferases (GTs) and transporters involved in Gb3 biosynthesis, while the ricin screen identified GTs and transporters involved in N-linked protein glycosylation and fucosylation. The screens also identified lysosomal-associated protein transmembrane 4 alpha (LAPTM4A), a poorly characterized four-pass membrane protein, as a factor specifically required for Stxs. Mass spectrometry analysis of glycolipids and their precursors demonstrates that LAPTM4A knockout (KO) cells lack Gb3 biosynthesis. This requirement of LAPTM4A for Gb3 synthesis is not shared by its homolog lysosomal-associated protein transmembrane 4 beta (LAPTM4B), and switching the domains between them determined that the second luminal domain of LAPTM4A is required, potentially acting as a specific “activator” for the GT that synthesizes Gb3. These screens also revealed two Golgi proteins, Transmembrane protein 165 (TMEM165) and Transmembrane 9 superfamily member 2 (TM9SF2), as shared factors required for both Stxs and ricin. TMEM165 KO and TM9SF2 KO cells both showed a reduction in not only Gb3 but also other glycosphingolipids, suggesting that they are required for maintaining proper levels of glycosylation in general in the Golgi. In addition, TM9SF2 KO cells also showed defective endosomal trafficking. These studies reveal key Golgi proteins critical for regulating glycosylation and glycolipid synthesis and provide novel therapeutic targets for blocking Stxs and ricin toxicity.

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