Natural toxins are the product of a long-term evolution, and act on essential mechanisms in the most crucial and vital processes of living organisms. They can attack components of the protein synthesis machinery, actin polymerization, signal transduction pathways, intracellular trafficking of vesicles as well as immune and inflammatory responses. For this reason, toxins have increasingly been used as valuable tools for analysis of cellular physiology, and in the recent years, some of them are used medicinally for the treatment of human diseases.
This review is devoted to protein toxins of bacterial origin, specifically those toxins that are currently used in therapy or those under study for their potential clinical applications. Bacterial protein toxins are all characterized by a specific mechanism of action that involves the central molecular pathways in the eukaryotic cell. Knowledge of their properties could be used for medical purposes.
Keywords: Adenylate cyclase, anthrax toxin, bacterial protein toxins, botulinum toxin, cancer, cholera toxin, clinical application, cytotoxic necrotizing factor 1 (CNF1), drug delivery agent, fusion protein, heat-labile enterotoxin, human disease, immunotoxins, molecular mechanism, neurological disorders, pertussis toxin, tetanus toxin, therapeutic agents, vaccine adjuvant, viral infection, zonula occludens toxin (ZOT).