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Anthrax toxin Lethal Factor (Molecule of the Month for February 2002)

Love Hurts

The beautiful heart shaped protein so appropriate for Saint Valentine's Day packs a powerful punch.

It is infact part of the anthrax toxin which is the deadly payload of the anthrax bacteria. It is the protein structure of the Lethal Factor component of Anthrax toxin. A more formal protein structure is shown below.

Anthrax toxin is made up of three components: Protective Antigen (PA), Lethal Factor (LF) and Endemic Factor (EF). Seven units of PA combine together on the surface of cells forming a ring-like structure, this then combines with either the LF or EF unit, this ring complex then punches a hole into the cell wall and allows the deadly LF or EF units into the cell, causing rapid cell death and repeated on a larger scale death of the infected host. More info. can be found at looking at the University of Oxford anthrax toxin research project, where 1.5 million distributed computers combined together in February 2002 to find a cure to the effects of anthrax toxin.

Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)



Picture of Anthrax toxin Lethal Factor

click on the picture above to interact
with the 3D model of the
Anthrax toxin Lethal Factor structure
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Picture of Anthrax toxin Lethal Factor

Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for February 2002 )