Date of this Version
Emerging Infectious Diseases (1999), 5(2), 224-234
Many emerging and reemerging bacterial pathogens synthesize toxins that serve as primary virulence factors. We highlight seven bacterial toxins produced by well-established or newly emergent pathogenic microbes. These toxins, which affect eukaryotic cells by a variety of means, include Staphylococcus aureus α-toxin, Shiga toxin, cytotoxic necrotizing factor type 1, Escherichia coli heat-stable toxin, botulinum and tetanus neurotoxins, and S. aureus toxic-shock syndrome toxin. For each, we discuss the information available on its synthesis and structure, mode of action, and contribution to virulence. We also review the role certain toxins have played in unraveling signal pathways in eukaryotic cells and summarize the beneficial uses of toxins and toxoids. Our intent is to illustrate the importance of the analysis of bacterial toxins to both basic and applied sciences.