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Infect Immun. 1977 Oct;18(1):85-93.

Beta-adrenergic blocking activity of Yersinia pestis murine toxin.


Yersinia pestis plague murine toxin has been found to inhibit the mobilization of free fatty acids in mice in a manner similar to that of beta-adrenergic blocking agents. The blockage is detectable 75 min after injection of the toxin (1 to 2 mean lethal doses). The degree of inhibition was directly correlated with the toxicity of a given toxin preparation. Agents such as cholera toxin or glucagon, with apparently distinct receptors from beta-adrenergic receptors, stimulated adenylate cyclase and lipolysis and effectively modified toxicity. Likewise, cyclic adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate bypassed the toxin block and antagonized toxicity. Energy-rich compounds such as fatty acids, organic acids, and glucose effectively modified the intoxication process. The biological activity of plague toxin showed profound temperature sensitivity. Mice placed at 5 degrees C were highly susceptible to the effects of the toxin, whereas mice placed at 37 degrees C were totally resistant to intoxication. Results showed that plague toxin cannot block epinephrine-induced mobilization of free fatty acids in mice placed at 37 degrees C. These studies suggested that plague toxin acts at the receptor level in a manner similar to that of beta-adrenergic blocking agents. A complete, analogous activity was shown between toxin and known beta-adrenergic antagonists in their effect on beta-adrenergic agonist action in stimulating lipolysis. It is hypothesized that, since toxin shows no in vitro activity, it is in some way modified in animals.

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