Arresting Features of Bacterial Toxins

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Science  13 Oct 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5490, pp. 287-288
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5490.287

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Bacteria produce an arsenal of sophisticated toxins that disrupt the normal processes of the host cell, usually by modifying or inactivating host cell proteins. Now, as Coburn and Leong discuss in their Perspective, members of the cytolethal distending toxin (CDT) family have been identified as enzymes that attack DNA (and not protein) within the host cell (Lara-Tejero and Galán). By attacking DNA, perhaps during chromosomal replication, CDTs cause the host cell to halt in Gphase of the cell cycle.