Interaction between bacterial toxins and cellular surface receptors is an important component of host-pathogen interaction. Anthrax toxin protective antigen (PA) binds to cell surface receptor, enters cell through receptor mediated endocytosis, and forms a pore on the endosomal membrane that translocates toxic enzymes into the cytosol of host cell. Anthrax toxin receptors play an essential role in anthrax toxin action by providing the toxin with a high-affinity binding anchor on the cell membrane and a path of entry into the host cell. In this proposal, our preliminary study on one of the two known anthrax toxin receptors, ANTXR2, has suggested a new mechanism by which the receptor regulates anthrax toxin action. We have found that the disulfide bonds in the immunoglobulin-like domain (R2-Ig) within the ANTXR2 extracellular portion are required for anthrax toxin action. Disruption of these disulfide bonds inhibited PA pore formation an d translocation of toxic enzymes across the membrane into the host cell. Moreover, disulfide reduction in R2-Ig induced a significant conformational change in the distal PA-binding domain of the receptor, namely von Willebrand Factor A domain (R2-VWA). Thus, our hypothesis is that the disulfide bonds in R2-Ig regulate anthrax toxin action through allosteric effects on the conformation of R2-VWA, hence interfering with PA prepore-to-pore conversion and/or membrane insertion. In this proposal, we will investigate the mechanism by which disulfide reduction in the R2-Ig domain inhibits anthrax toxin action using fluorescence techniques in a liposomal model membrane system as well as other means. Further, we will determine the disulfide bond pattern of the ANTXR2 ectodomain using proteomic analysis by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, and probe disulfide allostery with single-particle electron microscopy and X-ray crystallography. Finally, we will identify the cellular redox regulators of ANTXR2 with a variety of cellular and proteomic approaches. The proposed study will elucidate a novel aspect of receptor-mediated anthrax toxin action and open novel avenues to developing therapeutics against anthrax. The result gleaned from the proposed study will also be extended to other receptor-toxin and host-pathogen systems.

Public Health Relevance

Anthrax toxin is responsible for the major symptoms of anthrax disease. Understanding of anthrax toxin action and toxin-receptor interaction will provide clues to treat anthrax. Our recent studies have discovered a novel mechanism by which anthrax toxin receptor regulates anthrax toxin action, namely disulfide allostery. The current project proposes a series of experiments to elucidate the mechanism of disulfide allostery and to identify the redox regulators of anthrax toxin receptor. This research will enhance our fundamental understanding of anthrax pathogenesis, which will facilitate development of novel therapeutics against anthrax.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)
Research Enhancement Award (SC1)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZGM1-MBRS-3 (CH))
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Wehrle, Janna P
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University of Texas El Paso
Schools of Arts and Sciences
El Paso
United States
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