NC_007530:674265 Bacillus anthracis str. 'Ames Ancestor', complete genome
Host Lineage: Bacillus anthracis; Bacillus; Bacillaceae; Bacillales; Firmicutes; Bacteria
General Information: This is the type strain (0581, A2084, genotype 62, Group A3.b) for Bacillus anthracis and contains the two virulence plasmids, pOX1 and pOX2, that encode anthrax toxin and capsule, respectively, making this a virulent strain. This strain is considered the "gold standard" for B. anthracis. Under starvation conditions this group of bacteria initiate a pathway that leads to endospore formation, a process that is thoroughly studied and is a model system for prokaryotic development and differentiation. Spores are highly resistant to heat, cold, dessication, radiation, and disinfectants, and enable the organism to persist in otherwise inhospitable environments. Under more inviting conditions the spores germinate to produce vegetative cells. This organism was the first to be shown to cause disease by Dr. Louis Pasteur (the organism, isolated from sick animals, was grown in the laboratory and then used to infect healthy animals and make them sick). This organism was also the first for which an attenuated strain was developed as a vaccine. Herbivorous animals become infected with the organism when they ingest spores from the soil whereas humans become infected when they come into contact with a contaminated animal. PA/LF and PA/EF complexes are internalized by host cells where the LF (metalloprotease) and EF (calmodulin-dependent adenylate cyclase) components act. At high levels LF induces cell death and release of the bacterium while EF increases host susceptibility to infection and promotes fluid accumulation in the cells.