Cytotoxic necrotizing factor type 1 (CNF1) induces, in epithelial cells, the development of stress fibres via the GTPase Rho pathway. We showed that CNF1 is able to modify Rho both in vitro and in vivo. Recombinant N-terminal 33kDa (CNF1Nter) and C-terminal 14.8-31.5 kDa (CNF1Cter) regions of the CNF1 protein allowed us to demonstrate that the N-terminal region contains the cell-binding domain of the toxin and that the C-terminal region is responsible for its catalytic activity. CNF1Nter lowered the activity of CNF1 when provided to cells before the toxin whereas CNF1Cter had no effect on CNF1 cell toxicity. CNF1Cter was sufficient to induce a typical CNF1 phenotype when microinjected into African green monkey kidney cells (Vero cells), and was able to modify Rho as previously reported for CNF1. The C-terminal domain lost its catalytic activity when deleted of various subdomains, suggesting a scattered distribution of catalytic-site amino acids. Elucidation of the CNF1 functional organization and analysis of amino acid homologies between CNFs (CNF1, CNF2), Pasteurella multocida toxin (PMT) and dermonecrotic toxin of Bordetella pertussis (DNT) allowed us to postulate that CNFs and DNT act on Rho via the same enzymatic activity located in their C-terminus, and that CNFs and PMT probably bind to analogous cell receptors.