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Project context and summary :
The adenylate cyclase (CyaA) produced by B. pertussis, the causative agent of whooping cough, is one of the major virulence factors of this organism. CyaA plays an important role in the early stages of respiratory tract colonization by B. pertussis. This toxin uses an original intoxication mechanism: secreted by the virulent bacteria, it is able to invade eukaryotic target cells through a unique but poorly understood mechanism that involves a direct translocation of the catalytic domain across the plasma membrane. CyaA is a 1706-residue long protein organized in a modular fashion. The ATP-cyclizing, calmodulin-activated, catalytic domain (ACD) is located in the 400 amino-terminal residues. Once secreted by the bacteria, the toxin binds calcium in the extracellular milieu and refolds into a functional state. Then, CyaA translocates its catalytic domain directly across the plasma membrane from the extracellular medium to the host cell cytoplasm where, upon activation by endogenous calmodulin, it increases the concentration of cAMP to supraphysiological levels that ultimately leads to the cell death. Recently, we succeeded to refold CyaA in a stable and monomeric form that is fully folded and functional (at variance with all prior procedures in which the polypeptides were largely aggregated upon urea removal). Both calcium and molecular confinement are mandatory to produce the monomeric state and CyaA acylation also strongly contributes to the refolding process. We further show that the monomeric preparation displayed hemolytic and cytotoxic activities suggesting that the monomer is the genuine, physiologically active form of the toxin. Hence, despite recent advances in the understanding of CyaA, its mechanisms of cell intoxication process, in particular the membrane translocation step, remains poorly understood from a fundamental perspective. The description of the molecular events occurring prior to and during the translocation of the catalytic domain across the lipiRelated team publications :
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