Monitoring anthrax toxin receptor dissociation from the protective antigen by NMR

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Rajapaksha, Maheshinie
Eichler, Jack F.
Hajduch, Jan
Anderson, David E.
Kirk, Kenneth L.
Bann, James G.

Protein science : a publication of the Protein Society. 2009 Jan; 18(1): 17-23.


The binding of the Bacillus anthracis protective antigen (PA) to the host cell receptor is the first step toward the formation of the anthrax toxin, a tripartite set of proteins that include the enzymatic moieties edema factor (EF), and lethal factor (LF). PA is cleaved by a furin-like protease on the cell surface followed by the formation of a donut-shaped heptameric prepore. The prepore undergoes a major structural transition at acidic pH that results in the formation of a membrane spanning pore, an event which is dictated by interactions with the receptor and necessary for entry of EF and LF into the cell. We provide direct evidence using 1-dimensional (13)C-edited (1)H NMR that low pH induces dissociation of the Von-Willebrand factor A domain of the receptor capillary morphogenesis protein 2 (CMG2) from the prepore, but not the monomeric full length PA. Receptor dissociation is also observed using a carbon-13 labeled, 2-fluorohistidine labeled CMG2, consistent with studies showing that protonation of His-121 in CMG2 is not a mechanism for receptor release. Dissociation is likely caused by the structural transition upon formation of a pore from the prepore state rather than protonation of residues at the receptor PA or prepore interface.

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