Bordetella pertussis adenylate cyclase: purification and characterization of the toxic form of the enzyme.


Bordetella pertussis produces a calmodulin-sensitive adenylate cyclase (AC) which is an essential virulence factor in mammalian pertussis. Here we report the purification and characterization of the toxic form of the enzyme, which penetrates eukaryotic cells and generates high levels of intracellular cAMP. This form was purified from an extract of B.pertussis strain carrying a recombinant plasmid which over-produced both enzymatic and toxic activities of the enzyme. Western blot analysis of the extract using anti-B.pertussis AC antibodies detected only one protein of 200 kd. However, gel filtration of the extract resolved two peaks of enzymatic activity. The first peak of aggregated material contained greater than 70% of the total enzymatic activity, and the second peak contained the majority of the toxic activity. Purification of the enzyme from both peaks yielded proteins of 200 kd, with similar biochemical and immunological properties. Yet only the enzyme purified from the second peak could penetrate human lymphocyte and catalyse the formation of intracellular cAMP. B.pertussis AC gene expressed in Escherichia coli produced a calmodulin-dependent enzyme of 200 kd, which lacked lymphocyte penetration capacity. It is proposed that a post-translational modification that occurs in B.pertussis but not in E.coli confers upon the 200 kd protein of B.pertussis AC the toxic properties.

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