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1.  Anthrax Lethal and Edema Toxins Fail to Directly Impair Human Platelet Function 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;205(3):453-457.
Hemorrhage is a prominent clinical manifestation of systemic anthrax. Therefore, we have examined the effects of anthrax lethal and edema toxins on human platelets. We find that anthrax lethal toxin fails to cleave its target, mitogen-activated protein kinase 1, and anthrax edema toxin fails to increase intracellular cyclic adenosine monophosphate. Surface expression of toxin receptors tumor endothelial marker 8 and capillary morphogenesis gene 2, as well as coreceptor low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 6 (LRP6), are markedly reduced, preventing toxin binding to platelets. Our studies suggest that the hemorrhagic clinical manifestations of systemic anthrax are unlikely to be caused by the direct binding and entry of anthrax toxins into human platelets.
PMCID: PMC3256950  PMID: 22158563
2.  Bacillus anthracis’ lethal toxin induces broad transcriptional responses in human peripheral monocytes 
BMC Immunology  2012;13:33.
Anthrax lethal toxin (LT), produced by the Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus anthracis, is a highly effective zinc dependent metalloprotease that cleaves the N-terminus of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinases (MAPKK or MEKs) and is known to play a role in impairing the host immune system during an inhalation anthrax infection. Here, we present the transcriptional responses of LT treated human monocytes in order to further elucidate the mechanisms of LT inhibition on the host immune system.
Western Blot analysis demonstrated cleavage of endogenous MEK1 and MEK3 when human monocytes were treated with 500 ng/mL LT for four hours, proving their susceptibility to anthrax lethal toxin. Furthermore, staining with annexin V and propidium iodide revealed that LT treatment did not induce human peripheral monocyte apoptosis or necrosis. Using Affymetrix Human Genome U133 Plus 2.0 Arrays, we identified over 820 probe sets differentially regulated after LT treatment at the p <0.001 significance level, interrupting the normal transduction of over 60 known pathways. As expected, the MAPKK signaling pathway was most drastically affected by LT, but numerous genes outside the well-recognized pathways were also influenced by LT including the IL-18 signaling pathway, Toll-like receptor pathway and the IFN alpha signaling pathway. Multiple genes involved in actin regulation, signal transduction, transcriptional regulation and cytokine signaling were identified after treatment with anthrax LT.
We conclude LT directly targets human peripheral monocytes and causes multiple aberrant gene responses that would be expected to be associated with defects in human monocyte’s normal signaling transduction pathways and function. This study provides further insights into the mechanisms associated with the host immune system collapse during an anthrax infection, and suggests that anthrax LT may have additional downstream targets outside the well-known MAPK pathway.
PMCID: PMC3475123  PMID: 22747600
3.  Bacillus anthracis Edema Toxin Impairs Neutrophil Actin-Based Motility▿  
Infection and Immunity  2009;77(6):2455-2464.
Inhalation anthrax results in high-grade bacteremia and is accompanied by a delay in the rise of the peripheral polymorphonuclear neutrophil (PMN) count and a paucity of PMNs in the infected pleural fluid and mediastinum. Edema toxin (ET) is one of the major Bacillus anthracis virulence factors and consists of the adenylate cyclase edema factor (EF) and protective antigen (PA). Relatively low concentrations of ET (100 to 500 ng/ml of PA and EF) significantly impair human PMN chemokinesis, chemotaxis, and ability to polarize. These changes are accompanied by a reduction in chemoattractant-stimulated PMN actin assembly. ET also causes a significant decrease in Listeria monocytogenes intracellular actin-based motility within HeLa cells. These defects in actin assembly are accompanied by a >50-fold increase in intracellular cyclic AMP and a >4-fold increase in the phosphorylation of protein kinase A. We have previously shown that anthrax lethal toxin (LT) also impairs neutrophil actin-based motility (R. L. During, W. Li, B. Hao, J. M. Koenig, D. S. Stephens, C. P. Quinn, and F. S. Southwick, J. Infect. Dis. 192:837-845, 2005), and we now find that LT combined with ET causes an additive inhibition of PMN chemokinesis, polarization, chemotaxis, and FMLP (N-formyl-met-leu-phe)-induced actin assembly. We conclude that ET alone or combined with LT impairs PMN actin assembly, resulting in paralysis of PMN chemotaxis.
PMCID: PMC2687340  PMID: 19349425

Results 1-3 (3)