Lethal factor of anthrax toxin binds monomeric form of protective antigen.
ABSTRACT: Anthrax toxin consists of three components: the enzymatic moieties edema factor (EF) and the lethal factor (LF) and the receptor-binding moiety protective antigen (PA). These toxin components are released from Bacillus anthracis as unassociated proteins and form complexes on the surface of host cells after proteolytic processing of PA into PA20 and PA63. The sequential order of PA heptamerization and ligand binding, as well as the exact mechanism of anthrax toxin entry into cells, are still unclear. In the present study, we provide direct evidence that PA63 monomers are sufficient for binding to the full length LF or its LF-N domain, though with lower affinity with the latter. Therefore, PA oligomerization is not a necessary condition for LF/PA complex formation. In addition, we demonstrated that the PA20 directly interacts with the LF-N domain. Our data points to an alternative process of self-assembly of anthrax toxin on the surface of host cells.
Project description:Anthrax protective antigen (83 kDa, PA83) is an essential component of two major binary toxins produced by Bacillus anthracis, lethal toxin (LTx) and edema toxin (ETx). During infection, LTx and ETx contribute to immune collapse, endothelial dysfunction, hemorrhage and high mortality. Following protease cleavage on cell receptors or in circulation, the 20 kDa (PA20) N-terminus is released, activating the 63 kDa (PA63) form which binds lethal factor (LF) and edema factor (EF), facilitating their entry into their cellular targets. Several ELISA-based PA methods previously developed are primarily qualitative or semi-quantitative. Here, we combined protein immunocapture, tryptic digestion and isotope dilution liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), to develop a highly selective and sensitive method for detection and accurate quantification of total-PA (PA83 + PA63) and PA83. Two tryptic peptides in the 63 kDa region measure total-PA and three in the 20 kDa region measure PA83 alone. Detection limits range from 1.3-2.9 ng mL-1 PA in 100 ?L of plasma. Spiked recovery experiments with combinations of PA83, PA63, LF and EF in plasma showed that PA63 and PA83 were quantified accurately against the PA83 standard and that LF and EF did not interfere with accuracy. Applied to a study of inhalation anthrax in rhesus macaques, total-PA suggested triphasic kinetics, similar to that previously observed for LF and EF. This study is the first to report circulating PA83 in inhalation anthrax, typically at less than 4% of the levels of PA63, providing the first evidence that activated PA63 is the primary form of PA throughout infection.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Anthrax is caused by Bacillus anthracis that produce two exotoxins, lethal toxin and edema toxin. The lethal toxin is composed of the lethal factor (LF) complexed with the cell binding protective antigen (PA83, 83 kDa). Likewise, the edema factor (EF) binds to the PA83 to form the edema toxin. Once PA83 is bound to the host cell surface, a furin-like protease cleaves the full-length, inactive protein into 63 kDa and 20 kDa antigens (PA63 and PA20). PA63 forms a heptamer and is internalized via receptor mediated endocytosis forming a protease-stable pore, which allows EF and LF to enter the cell and exert their toxic effects.Both proteolytically cleaved protective antigens (PA63 and PA20 fragments) are found in the blood of infected animals. The 63 kDa protective antigen PA63 fragment has been thoroughly studied while little is known about the PA20. METHODS: In this study we examined the role of PA20 using high throughput gene expression analysis of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) exposed to the PA20. We constructed a PA mutant in which a Factor Xa proteolytic recognition site was genetically engineered into the protective antigen PA83 to obtain PA20 using limited digestion of this recombinant PA83 with trypsin. RESULTS: Global gene expression response studies indicated modulation of various immune functions and showed gene patterns indicative of apoptosis via the Fas pathway in a subset of the lymphoid cells. This finding was extended to include observations of increased Caspase-3 enzymatic activity and the identification of increases in the population of apoptotic, but not necrotic cells, based on differential staining methods. We identified a list of approximately 40 inflammatory mediators and heat-shock proteins that were altered similarly upon exposure of PBMC to either rPA20 or B. anthracis spores/vegetative cells. CONCLUSION: This study shows that the PA20 has an effect on human peripheral blood leukocytes and can induce apoptosis in the absence of other PA components.
Project description:Anthrax is a major zoonotic disease of wildlife, and in places like West Africa, it can be caused by Bacillus anthracis in arid nonsylvatic savannahs, and by B. cereus biovar anthracis (Bcbva) in sylvatic rainforests. Bcbva-caused anthrax has been implicated in as much as 38% of mortality in rainforest ecosystems, where insects can enhance the transmission of anthrax-causing bacteria. While anthrax is well-characterized in mammals, its transmission by insects points to an unidentified anthrax-resistance mechanism in its vectors. In mammals, a secreted anthrax toxin component, 83 kDa Protective Antigen (PA83), binds to cell-surface receptors and is cleaved by furin into an evolutionary-conserved PA20 and a pore-forming PA63 subunits. We show that PA20 increases the resistance of Drosophila flies and Culex mosquitoes to bacterial challenges, without directly affecting the bacterial growth. We further show that the PA83 loop known to be cleaved by furin to release PA20 from PA63 is, in part, responsible for the PA20-mediated protection. We found that PA20 binds directly to the Toll activating peptidoglycan-recognition protein-SA (PGRP-SA) and that the Toll/NF-?B pathway is necessary for the PA20-mediated protection of infected flies. This effect of PA20 on innate immunity may also exist in mammals: we show that PA20 binds to human PGRP-SA ortholog. Moreover, the constitutive activity of Imd/NF-?B pathway in MAPKK Dsor1 mutant flies is sufficient to confer the protection from bacterial infections in a manner that is independent of PA20 treatment. Lastly, Clostridium septicum alpha toxin protects flies from anthrax-causing bacteria, showing that other pathogens may help insects resist anthrax. The mechanism of anthrax resistance in insects has direct implications on insect-mediated anthrax transmission for wildlife management, and with potential for applications, such as reducing the sensitivity of pollinating insects to bacterial pathogens.
Project description:Bacillus anthracis represents a formidable bioterrorism and biowarfare threat for which new vaccines are needed with improved safety and efficacy over current options. Toward this end, we created recombinant adeno-associated virus type 1 (rAAV1) vectors containing synthetic genes derived from the protective antigen (PA) or lethal factor (LF) of anthrax lethal toxin (LeTx) and tested them for immunogenicity and induction of toxin-neutralizing antibodies in rabbits. Codon-optimized segments encoding activated PA (PA63), or LF, were synthesized and cloned into optimized rAAV1 vectors containing a human cytomegalovirus (hCMV) promoter and synthetic optimized leader. Serum from rabbits immunized intramuscularly with rAAV1/PA (monovalent), rAAV1/LF (monovalent), rAAV1/PA + rAAV1/LF (bivalent), or rAAV1/enhanced green fluorescent protein (control) exhibited substantial PA- and LF-specific antibody responses at 4 weeks by both western blot (> 1:10,000 dilution) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) (mean end-point titer: 32,000-260,000), and contained anthrax LeTx-neutralizing activity in vitro, with peak titers approximating those of a rabbit hyperimmune antisera raised against soluble PA and LF. Compared to the monovalent groups (rAAV1/PA or rAAV1/LF), the bivalent group (rAAV1/PA + rAAV1/LF) exhibited marginally higher ELISA and neutralization activity with dual specificity for both PA and LF. The finding of robust neutralizing antibody responses after a single injection of these rAAV1-based vectors supports their further development as candidate anthrax vaccines.
Project description:Anthrax toxin consists of three ? 85-kD proteins: lethal factor (LF), edema factor (EF), and protective antigen (PA). PA63 (the 63-kD, C-terminal portion of PA) forms heptameric channels ((PA63)7) in planar phospholipid bilayer membranes that enable the translocation of LF and EF across the membrane. These mushroom-shaped channels consist of a globular cap domain and a 14-stranded ?-barrel stem domain, with six anionic residues lining the interior of the stem to form rings of negative charges. (PA63)7 channels are highly cation selective, and, here, we investigate the effects on both cation selectivity and protein translocation of mutating each of these anionic residues to a serine. We find that although some of these mutations reduce cation selectivity, selectivity alone does not directly predict the rate of protein translocation; local changes in electrostatic forces must be considered as well.
Project description:The anthrax toxin is composed of three independent polypeptide chains. Successful intoxication only occurs when heptamerization of the receptor-binding polypeptide, the protective antigen (PA), allows binding of the two enzymatic subunits before endocytosis. We show that this tailored behavior is caused by two counteracting posttranslational modifications in the cytoplasmic tail of PA receptors. The receptor is palmitoylated, and this unexpectedly prevents its association with lipid rafts and, thus, its premature ubiquitination. This second modification, which is mediated by the E3 ubiquitin ligase Cbl, only occurs in rafts and is required for rapid endocytosis of the receptor. As a consequence, cells expressing palmitoylation-defective mutant receptors are less sensitive to anthrax toxin because of a lower number of surface receptors as well as premature internalization of PA without a requirement for heptamerization.
Project description:Anthrax toxin comprises three soluble proteins: protective antigen (PA), lethal factor (LF), and edema factor (EF). PA must be cleaved by host proteases before it oligomerizes and forms a prepore, to which LF and EF bind. After endocytosis of this tripartite complex, the prepore transforms into a narrow transmembrane pore that delivers unfolded LF and EF into the host cytosol. Here, we find that translocation of multiple 90-kD LF molecules is rapid and efficient. To probe the molecular basis of this translocation, we calculated a three-dimensional map of the fully loaded (PA63)7-(LF)3 prepore complex by cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). The map shows three LFs bound in a similar way to one another, via their N-terminal domains, to the surface of the PA heptamer. The model also reveals contacts between the N- and C-terminal domains of adjacent LF molecules. We propose that this molecular arrangement plays an important role in the maintenance of translocation efficiency through the narrow PA pore.
Project description:Anthrax toxin is an A/B bacterial protein toxin which is composed of the enzymatically active Lethal Factor (LF) and/or Oedema Factor (EF) bound to Protective Antigen 63 (PA63) which functions as both the receptor binding and transmembrane domains. Once the toxin binds to its cell surface receptors it is internalized into the cell and traffics through Rab5- and Rab7-associated endosomal vesicles. Following acidification of the vesicle lumen, PA63 undergoes a dynamic change forming a beta-barrel that inserts into and forms a pore through the endosomal membrane. It is widely recognized that LF, and the related fusion protein LFnDTA, must be completely denatured in order to transit through the PA63 formed pore and enter the eukaryotic cell cytosol. We demonstrate by protease protection assays that the molecular chaperone GRP78 mediates the unfolding of LFnDTA and LF at neutral pH and thereby converts these proteins from a trypsin resistant to sensitive conformation. We have used immunoelectron microscopy and gold-labelled antibodies to demonstrate that both GRP78 and GRP94 chaperones are present in the lumen of endosomal vesicles. Finally, we have used siRNA to demonstrate that knock-down of GRP78 results in the emergence of resistance to anthrax lethal toxin and oedema toxin action.
Project description:The anthrax toxin is a tripartite toxin, where the two enzymatic subunits require the third subunit, the protective antigen (PA), to interact with cells and be escorted to their cytoplasmic targets. PA binds to cells via one of two receptors, TEM8 and CMG2. Interestingly, the toxin times and triggers its own endocytosis, in particular through the heptamerization of PA. Here we show that PA triggers the ubiquitination of its receptors in a beta-arrestin-dependent manner and that this step is required for clathrin-mediated endocytosis. In addition, we find that endocytosis is dependent on the heterotetrameric adaptor AP-1 but not the more conventional AP-2. Finally, we show that endocytosis of PA is strongly dependent on actin. Unexpectedly, actin was also found to be essential for efficient heptamerization of PA, but only when bound to one of its 2 receptors, TEM8, due to the active organization of TEM8 into actin-dependent domains. Endocytic pathways are highly modular systems. Here we identify some of the key players that allow efficient heptamerization of PA and subsequent ubiquitin-dependent, clathrin-mediated endocytosis of the anthrax toxin.
Project description:Several different human vaccines are available to protect against anthrax. We compared the human adaptive immune responses generated by three different anthrax vaccines or by previous exposure to cutaneous anthrax. Adaptive immunity was measured by ELISPOT to count cells that produce interferon (IFN)-? in response to restimulation ex vivo with the anthrax toxin components PA, LF and EF and by measuring circulating IgG specific to these antigens. Neutralising activity of antisera against anthrax toxin was also assayed. We found that the different exposures to anthrax antigens promoted varying immune responses. Cutaneous anthrax promoted strong IFN-? responses to all three antigens and antibody responses to PA and LF. The American AVA and Russian LAAV vaccines induced antibody responses to PA only. The British AVP vaccine produced IFN-? responses to EF and antibody responses to all three antigens. Anti-PA (in AVA and LAAV vaccinees) or anti-LF (in AVP vaccinees) antibody titres correlated with toxin neutralisation activities. Our study is the first to compare all three vaccines in humans and show the diversity of responses against anthrax antigens.