Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences CMLS

, Volume 55, Issue 12, pp 1599–1609 | Cite as

Anthrax toxins

  • N. S. Duesbery
  • G. F. Vande Woude


Though its lethal effects were ascribed to an exotoxin almost half a century ago, the pathogenesis of anthrax has yet to be satisfactorily explained. Subsequent work has led to the molecular identification and enzymatic characterization of three proteins that constitute two anthrax toxins. Protective antigen binds an as yet unknown cell receptor and mediates the entry of the other two components to the cytoplasm via the endosomal pathway. Edema factor, so named for its ability to induce edema, is a Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent adenylate cyclase. Lethal factor, the dominant virulence factor associated with the toxin, proteolytically inactivates mitogen-activated protein kinase kinases, key players in signal transduction. We describe the fascinating work that has led to these discoveries and discuss their relevance to our understanding of the pathogenesis of anthrax.

Key words. Anthrax; mitogen-activated protein kinases; bacterial pathogens; edema factor; lethal factor. 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag Basel, 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. S. Duesbery
    • 1
  • G. F. Vande Woude
    • 2
  1. 1.ABL-Basic Research Program, NCI-FCRDC, P.O. Box B, Frederick (Maryland 21702, USA)US
  2. 2.Division of Basic Sciences, NCI-FCRDC, P.O. Box B, Frederick (Maryland 21702, USA), Fax +1 301 846 5038, e-mail: woude@ncifcrf.govUS

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