The lethal factor of Bacillus anthracis is central to the pathogenesis of anthrax. Its mechanism of action is still unknown. Recently, on the basis of sequence similarities, we suggested that lethal factor might act similarly to leukotriene A4 hydrolase (LTA4), a bifunctional enzyme also endowed with a metallopeptidase activity. Here we show that some inhibitors of the LTA4 hydrolase and metallopeptidase activities of LTA4 hydrolase also affect the cytotoxicity of the anthrax lethal factor on macrophage cell lines, without interfering with the ability of the lethal factor to enter cells. These results support the proposal that anthrax lethal factor might display in the cytosol of intoxicated cells a peptidase activity similar to that of LTA4 hydrolase.

This content is only available as a PDF.