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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004 Sep 10;322(1):258-62.

Anthrax toxin complexes: heptameric protective antigen can bind lethal factor and edema factor simultaneously.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The 83 kDa protective antigen (PA(83)) component of anthrax toxin, after proteolytic activation, self-associates to form ring-shaped heptamers ([PA(63)](7)) that bind and aid delivery of the Edema Factor (EF) and Lethal Factor (LF) components to the cytosol. Here we show using fluorescence (Förster) resonance energy transfer that a molecule of [PA(63)](7) can bind EF and LF simultaneously. We labeled EF and LF with an appropriate donor/acceptor pair and found quenching of the donor and an increase in sensitized emission of the acceptor when, and only when, a mixture of the labeled proteins was combined with [PA(63)](7). Addition of unlabeled PA(63)-binding domain of LF to the mixture competitively displaced labeled EF and LF, causing a loss of energy transfer. In view of the known maximum occupancy of 3 ligand molecules per [PA(63)](7), these findings indicate that PA, EF, and LF can form mixtures of liganded toxin complexes containing both EF and LF.

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