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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1997 Feb 15;147(2):203-7.

AtxA activates the transcription of genes harbored by both Bacillus anthracis virulence plasmids.

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Laboratorie de Génétique Moléculaire des Toxines (URA 1858, CNRS), Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.


Fully virulent Bacillus anthracis bacilli are encapsulated and toxinogenic. These bacteria carry two plasmids, pXO1, and pXO2, encoding toxins and capsule synthetic-enzymes (capB, C, A, dep), respectively. The PXO1 plasmid strongly enhances capsule formation. This influence was studied by analysing the expression of a capB-lacZ fusion in various backgrounds. The beta-galactosidase activities were similar in a delta atxA strain and a pXO1 cured strain. Moreover, the capB-lacZ expression level could be restored, in a pXO1 cured strain, by addition of atxA in trans. Thus, we conclude that the pX01 influence on capsule synthesis is mediated by AtxA, the pXO1-encoded trans-activator of the toxin gene expression.

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