Anthrax toxin: A tripartite lethal combination

Paolo Ascenzi, Paolo Visca, Giuseppe Ippolito, Andrea Spallarossa, Martino Bolognesi, Cesare Montecucco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anthrax is a severe bacterial infection that occurs when Bacillus anthracis spores gain access into the body and germinate in macrophages, causing septicemia and toxemia. Anthrax toxin is a binary A-B toxin composed of protective antigen (PA), lethal factor (LF), and edema factor (EF). PA mediates the entry of either LF or EF into the cytosol of host cells. LF is a zinc metalloprotease that inactivates mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase inducing cell death, and EF is an adenylyl cyclase impairing host defences. Inhibitors targeting different steps of toxin activity have recently been developed. Anthrax toxin has also been exploited as a therapeutic agent against cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)384-388
Number of pages5
JournalFEBS Letters
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 20 2002


  • Anthrax toxin
  • Bacillus anthracis
  • Edema factor
  • Lethal factor
  • Protective antigen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Biophysics
  • Molecular Biology


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