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J Biochem. 2004 Oct;136(4):409-13.

Cytolethal distending toxin: a bacterial bullet targeted to nucleus.

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Department of Bacteriology, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Hiroshima University, 1-2-3 Kasumi, Minami-ku, Hiroshima 734-8553, Japan.


Cytolethal distending toxin (Cdt) is a newly added member of bacterial protein toxins that hijack the control system of eukaryotic cells. Cdts are produced by several pathogenic bacteria causing chronic infectious diseases. They are composed of three subunits, CdtA, CdtB and CdtC, which together form a ternary complex. CdtB is the active component, and CdtA and CdtC are involved in delivering the CdtB into the cells. The sophisticated strategy of Cdt to control host cells is CdtB-mediated limited DNA damage of the host cell chromosome, which triggers the response of the cell cycle checkpoint and results in G2 arrest in the cells. Cdt also induces apoptotic cell death of lymphocytes, which may be relevant to onset or persistence of chronic infection by the producing bacteria. The study of this toxin is expected to provide us information on a novel strategy by which bacteria interact with host cells.

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