Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 28186111
Sci Rep 2017 Feb;7:42065
Bordetella pertussis, the causative agent of whooping cough, secretes an adenylate cyclase toxin, CyaA, which invades eukaryotic cells and alters their physiology by cAMP overproduction. Calcium is an essential cofactor of CyaA, as it is the case for most members of the Repeat-in-ToXins (RTX) family. We show that the calcium-bound, monomeric form of CyaA, hCyaAm, conserves its permeabilization and haemolytic activities, even in a fully calcium-free environment. In contrast, hCyaAm requires sub-millimolar calcium in solution for cell invasion, indicating that free calcium in solution is involved in the CyaA toxin translocation process. We further report the first in solution structural characterization of hCyaAm, as deduced from SAXS, mass spectrometry and hydrodynamic studies. We show that hCyaAm adopts a compact and stable state that can transiently conserve its conformation even in a fully calcium-free environment. Our results therefore suggest that in hCyaAm, the C-terminal RTX-domain is stabilized in a high-affinity calcium-binding state by the N-terminal domains while, conversely, calcium binding to the C-terminal RTX-domain strongly stabilizes the N-terminal regions. Hence, the different regions of hCyaAm appear tightly connected, leading to stabilization effects between domains. The hysteretic behaviour of CyaA in response to calcium is likely shared by other RTX cytolysins.