Anthrax evildoers revealed

New work has identified the cellular receptor for anthrax toxin and resolved the crystal structure of a component of the toxin.

Tudor Toma(t.toma@ic.ac.uk)
Oct 24, 2001

Anthrax toxin, which due to unfortunate circumstances has become a topic of great public interest at the moment, has three parts: lethal factor (LF), oedema factor (OF) and the protective agent (PA). Two papers published in 8 November Nature provide more details about the anthrax toxin components PA and LF, pointing the way to better vaccines and treatments.

In the first paper, Kenneth Bradley and colleagues from University of Wisconsin-Madison, describe the cloning of a cellular receptor for the PA component of the anthrax toxin. The receptor, called ATR (anthrax toxin receptor) is a type I membrane protein with an extracellular von Willebrand factor A domain that binds directly to the protective antigen (PA) of the anthrax toxin.

In the second paper, Andrew Pannifer and colleagues from The Burnham Institute, La Jolla, California, report the crystal structure of another part of the toxin, the anthrax lethal...

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