The actin cross-linking domain (ACD) is an actin-specific toxin produced by several pathogens, including life-threatening spp. of Vibrio cholerae, Vibrio vulnificus, and Aeromonas hydrophila. Actin cross-linking by ACD is thought to lead to slow cytoskeleton failure owing to a gradual sequestration of actin in the form of nonfunctional oligomers. Here, we found that ACD converted cytoplasmic actin into highly toxic oligomers that potently "poisoned" the ability of major actin assembly proteins, formins, to sustain actin polymerization. Thus, ACD can target the most abundant cellular protein by using actin oligomers as secondary toxins to efficiently subvert cellular functions of actin while functioning at very low doses.
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