Association of Bacillus anthracis Capsule with Lethal Toxin during Experimental Infection
ARMY MEDICAL RESEARCH INST OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES FORT DETRICK MD DIAGNOSTIC SYSTEMS DIV
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Bacillus anthracis lethal toxin LT was characterized in plasma from infected African Green monkeys, rabbits, and guinea pigs. In all cases, during the terminal phase of infection only the protease-activated 63-kDa form of protective antigen PA63 and the residual 20-kDa fragment PA20 were detected in the plasma. No uncut PA with a molecular mass of 83 kDa was detected in plasma from toxemic animals during the terminal stage of infection. PA63 was largely associated with lethal factor LF, forming LT. Characterization of LT by Western blotting, capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and size exclusion chromatography revealed that the antiphagocytic poly-gamma-D-glutamic acid gamma-DPGA capsule released from B. anthracis bacilli was associated with LT in animal blood in variable amounts. While the nature of this in vivo association is not understood, we were able to determine that a portion of these LTgamma-DPGA complexes retained LF protease activity. Our findings suggest that the in vivo LT complexes differ from in vitro-produced LT and that including gamma-DPGA when examining the effects of LT on specific immune cells in vitro may reveal novel and important roles for gamma-DPGA in anthrax pathogenesis.
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