The first point of contact between anthrax toxin that invades the body and the cells that the toxin will eventually destroy is a protein, known as a “docking” protein or receptor. This docking protein was recently discovered by researchers at Harvard Medical School and the University of Wisconsin Medical School. Their discovery will, they hope, lead to a strategy for fighting anthax infection, even after symptoms have developed and treatment with antibiotics is no longer effective. The discovery was reported in Nature online on Oct. 23, 2001, and in the Nov. 8, 2001, print edition. Senior author of the report was John A. T. Young, the Howard M. Temin professor of cancer research at Wisconsin. R. John Collier was the study’s co-author; he is Maude and Lillian Presley professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at Harvard Medical School. In a separate study the Collier group, in collaboration with senior investigator Robert C. Liddington of The Burnham Institute in La Jolla, Calif., determined the 3-D structure of the part of the anthrax toxin that cuts up cellular proteins. They hope this will help them to design anti-anthrax treatments. The National Institutes of Health provided major funding for both studies.
Anthrax toxin receptor discovered
Findings could lead to novel treatments