ARMY MEDICAL RESEARCH INST OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES FORT DETRICK MD
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Anthrax toxin is a key virulence factor of Bacillus anthracis. The three protein components of the toxin have been purified and shown to have similar molecular weights protective antigen PA, 85,000 lethal factor LF, 83,000 edema factor EF, 89,000. The edema factors acts by reusing the concentration of cAMP in animal cells, and subsequently EF was found to be a calmodulin-dependent adenylate cyclase. The similarity of EF to Bordetella pertussis and eukaryotic cyclases suggests that the anthrax EF gene may have originated in animals. The lethal factor causes death in rats in as little as 38 minutes. No cultured cells are known which are rapidly damaged by LF.