How Anthrax Murders Macrophages

Science's STKE  24 Sep 2002:
Vol. 2002, Issue 151, pp. tw351
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2002.151.tw351

Selective destruction of activated macrophages is central to the pathogenicity of Bacillus anthracis. Park et al. report that lethal factor (LF) produced by the bacterium specifically inactivates the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling cascade only in activated mouse macrophages, thus causing cell death. This inhibition prevents the expression of a subset of target genes of the transcription factor nuclear factor κB (NF-κB), which functions in macrophage survival. This toxic effect of LF on the immune system may play a major role in the virulence of B. anthracis.

J. M. Park, F. R. Greten, Z.-W. Li, M. Karin, Macrophage apoptosis by anthrax lethal factor through p38 MAP kinase inhibition. Science 297, 2048-2051 (2002). [Abstract] [Full Text]