Pertussis toxin (PT) is a multi-subunit protein toxin secreted by Bordetella pertussis, the bacterial agent of the disease pertussis or whooping cough. PT in detoxified form is a component of all licensed acellular pertussis vaccines, since it is considered to be an important virulence factor for this pathogen. PT inhibits G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling through Gi proteins in mammalian cells, an activity that has led to its widespread use as a cell biology tool. But how does this activity of PT contribute to pertussis, including the severe respiratory symptoms of this disease? In this minireview, the contribution of PT to the pathogenesis of pertussis disease will be considered based on evidence from both human infections and animal model studies. Although definitive proof of the role of PT in humans is lacking, substantial evidence supports the idea that PT is a major contributor to pertussis pathology, including the severe respiratory symptoms associated with this disease.
Journal:Pathog Dis. 2015