Pneumonia caused by Mannheimia (Pasteurella) haemolytica is a highly fatal disease of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis). Leukotoxin (Lkt), secreted by M. haemolytica, is an important virulence factor of this organism, and is cytolytic to bighorn sheep leukocytes. Previously, we have shown that CD18, the β subunit of β 2 integrins, serves as the receptor for Lkt on bovine leukocytes. Furthermore, anti-CD18 antibodies inhibit Lkt-induced cytotoxicity of bighorn sheep leukocytes. Therefore, we hypothesized that Lkt utilizes CD18 as its receptor on bighorn sheep leukocytes. Confirmation of bighorn sheep CD18 as a receptor for Lkt requires the demonstration that the recombinant expression of bighorn sheep CD18 in Lkt-nonsusceptible cells renders them susceptible to Lkt. Therefore, we transfected cDNA encoding CD18 of bighorn sheep into a Lkt-nonsusceptible murine cell line. Cell surface expression of bighorn sheep CD18 on the transfectants was tested by flow cytometry with anti-CD18 antibodies. Transfectants stably expressing bighorn sheep CD18 on their surface were subjected to flow cytometric analysis for detection of Lkt binding, and cytotoxicity assays for detection of Lkt-induced cytotoxicity. Leukotoxin bound to the transfectants. More importantly, the transfectants were effectively lysed by Lkt in a concentration-dependent manner, whereas the parent cells were not. These results clearly indicate that M. haemolytica Lkt utilizes CD18 as a receptor on bighorn sheep leukocytes. Identification of CD18 as a receptor for Lkt on bighorn sheep leukocytes should enhance our understanding of the pathogenesis of pneumonia, which in turn should help in the development of control measures against this fatal disease of bighorn sheep.

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