Unraveling the structures and modes of action of bacterial toxins.


The mechanism by which a soluble protein converts into a protein that spans a membrane remains a central question in understanding the molecular mechanism of toxicity of bacterial protein toxins. Using crystallographic structures of soluble toxins as templates, the past year has seen a number of experiments that are designed to probe the membrane state using other structural methods. In addition, crystallographic information concerning the clostridial neurotoxins has emerged, suggesting a novel mechanism of pore formation and new relationships between toxin binding domains.