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Frizzled proteins are colonic epithelial receptors for C. difficile toxin B

Tao, L;Zhang, J;Meraner, P;Tovaglieri, A;Wu, X;Gerhard, R;Zhang, X;Stallcup, WB;Miao, J;He, X;Hurdle, JG;Breault, DT;Brass, AL;Dong, M;

Clostridium difficile toxin B (TcdB) is a critical virulence factor that causes diseases associated with C. difficile infection. Here we carried out CRISPR-Cas9-mediated genome-wide screens and identified the members of the Wnt receptor frizzled family (FZDs) as TcdB receptors. TcdB binds to the conserved Wnt-binding site known as the cysteine-rich domain (CRD), with the highest affinity towards FZD1, 2 and 7. TcdB competes with Wnt for binding to FZDs, and its binding blocks Wnt signalling. FZD1/2/7 triple-knockout cells are highly resistant to TcdB, and recombinant FZD2-CRD prevented TcdB binding to the colonic epithelium. Colonic organoids cultured from FZD7-knockout mice, combined with knockdown of FZD1 and 2, showed increased resistance to TcdB. The colonic epithelium in FZD7-knockout mice was less susceptible to TcdB-induced tissue damage in vivo. These findings establish FZDs as physiologically relevant receptors for TcdB in the colonic epithelium.