Author(s): Singh Y, Klimpel KR, Goel S, Swain PK, Leppla SH
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Abstract The protective antigen (PA) protein of anthrax toxin binds to a cellular receptor and is cleaved by cell surface furin to produce a 63-kDa fragment (PA63). The receptor-bound PA63 oligomerizes to a heptamer and acts to translocate the catalytic moieties of the toxin, lethal factor (LF) and edema factor (EF), from endosomes to the cytosol. In this report, we used nondenaturing gel electrophoresis to show that each PA63 subunit in the heptamer can bind one LF molecule. Studies using PA immobilized on a plastic surface showed that monomeric PA63 is also able to bind LF. The internalization of PA and LF by cells was studied with radiolabeled and biotinylated proteins. Uptake was relatively slow, with a half-time of 30 min. The number of moles of LF internalized was nearly equal to the number of moles of PA subunit internalized. The essential role of PA oligomerization in LF translocation was shown with PA protein cleaved at residues 313-314. The oligomers formed by these proteins during uptake into cells were not as stable when subjected to heat and detergent as were those formed by native PA. The results show that the structure of the toxin proteins and the kinetics of proteolytic activation, LF binding, and internalization are balanced in a way that allows each PA63 subunit to internalize an LF molecule. This set of proteins has evolved to achieve highly efficient internalization and membrane translocation of the catalytic components, LF and EF.
This article was published in Infect Immun
and referenced in Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense