Structure, biological functions and applications of the AB5 toxins

Trends Biochem Sci. 2010 Jul;35(7):411-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2010.02.003. Epub 2010 Mar 2.


AB(5) toxins are important virulence factors for several major bacterial pathogens, including Bordetella pertussis, Vibrio cholerae, Shigella dysenteriae and at least two distinct pathotypes of Escherichia coli. The AB(5) toxins are so named because they comprise a catalytic A-subunit, which is responsible for disruption of essential host functions, and a pentameric B-subunit that binds to specific glycan receptors on the target cell surface. The molecular mechanisms by which the AB(5) toxins cause disease have been largely unravelled, including recent insights into a novel AB(5) toxin family, subtilase cytotoxin (SubAB). Furthermore, AB(5) toxins have become a valuable tool for studying fundamental cellular functions, and are now being investigated for potential applications in the clinical treatment of human diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Toxins / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Toxins / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Toxins / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Molecular Structure
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism


  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Polysaccharides