exotoxin A (AE) is a bacterial virulence factor recently discovered in a clinical case of necrotising fasciitis caused by the flesh-eating Aeromonas hydrophila
. Here, database mining shows that AE is present in the genome of several emerging Aeromonas
pathogenic species. The X-ray crystal structure of AE was solved at 2.3 Å and presents all the hallmarks common to diphthamide-specific mono-ADP-ribosylating toxins, suggesting AE is a fourth member of this family alongside the diphtheria toxin, Pseudomonas
exotoxin A and cholix. Structural homology indicates AE may use a similar mechanism of cytotoxicity that targets eukaryotic elongation factor 2 and thus inhibition of protein synthesis. The structure of AE also highlights unique features including a metal binding site, and a negatively charged cleft that could play a role in interdomain interactions and may affect toxicity. This study raises new opportunities to engineer alternative toxin-based molecules with pharmaceutical potential.
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