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Microbiol Immunol. 2001;45(2):119-25.

Role of furin in delivery of a CTL epitope of an anthrax toxin-fusion protein.

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Department of Microbiology, Kurume University School of Medicine, Fukuoka, Japan.


Anthrax toxin lethal factor (LF) in combination with anthrax toxin protective antigen (PA) was endocytosed and translocated to the cytosol of mammalian cells. Residues 1-255 of anthrax toxin lethal factor (LFn) was fused to a cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) epitope of an influenza virus. For processing the toxins, PA must be cleaved into a 63-kDa fragment (PA63) by furin, which is a subtilisin-like processing endo-protease expressed by many eukaryotic cells. To test the ability of cells treated with the LFn fusion protein plus PA to deliver the epitope, CTL assay was performed. Two types of cell lines were identified, one was able to deliver CTL epitope while the other failed to efficiently deliver the epitope. To further elucidate the differences between these cells, the role of furin in these cells was examined. Disruption of the furin gene reduced its ability to deliver the CTL epitope. Furin expression in cells capable of efficiently delivering CTL epitope was quantitatively higher than in cells unable to deliver the epitope. The results suggest that furin plays a critical role in delivery of the CTL epitope of LFn fusion protein.

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