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Cell Microbiol. 2006 Aug;8(8):1272-81.

Cytotoxic activity of Bacillus anthracis protective antigen observed in a macrophage cell line overexpressing ANTXR1.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, USA.


Anthrax toxin protective antigen (PA) binds cell surface receptors (e.g. ANTXR1,2), forms heptameric pores, and translocates lethal factor (LF) or oedema factor (OF) into the cytoplasm of mammalian cells. In the current study, we sought to determine how receptor levels influence these events, by examining PA heptamer stability and related processes in macrophages that overexpress ANTXR1 (RAW 264.7ANTXR1). In these experiments, PA-oligomers demonstrated an extended half-life in RAW 264.7ANTXR1 macrophages, with SDS-resistant heptamers detected up to 10 h following treatment, while levels of PA-oligomers declined within 3 h in control cells. RAW 264.7ANTXR1 macrophages were also more sensitive to lethal toxin, a combination of PA and LF. Surprisingly, we found that PA alone was cytotoxic to RAW 264.7ANTXR1 cells. Further analysis found that PA cytotoxicity required direct interaction with ANTXR1, oligomerization, channel formation, endosomal acidification, and was independent of the ANTXR1 cytoplasmic tail. PA intoxication of RAW 264.7ANTXR1 macrophages resulted in caspase-3 activation, with corresponding DNA fragmentation and proteolytic cleavage of poly-ADP-ribose polymerase, as well as activation of Bid, suggesting cell death occurred via apoptosis. Overall, results from the current study suggest that receptor levels dictate the extent of PA oligomer stability, and shifts in this normal process can lead to cell death via apoptosis in the absence of toxin catalytic subunits.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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