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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Studies on the galactose-binding site of ricin and the hybrid toxin Man6P-ricin.

N-acetylimidazole (NAI) was used to O-acetylate the plant seed toxin ricin. O-acetylation of one to two tyrosine residues per molecule of ricin inhibited ricin binding to Sepharose 4B and decreased toxicity by 90% in a protein synthesis inhibition assay in HeLa cells. Lactose, known to block the binding site on the ricin B subunit, protected ricin from NAI modification of binding or toxicity. Thus NAI, under these conditions, can be a lactose site-specific inhibitor. The lactose site-specific modification of the hybrid toxin, Man6P-ricin, performed under the same conditions, exhibited the same 90% inhibition of Man6P receptor-mediated toxicity as the galactose-containing receptor-mediated toxicity of either Man6P-ricin or ricin. Thus the ricin B chain lactose-binding site appears to be essential for the high potency of Man6P-ricin via the new cell type-specific Man6P receptor. Treatment of fibroblasts with neuraminidase exposes galactose residues, thus increasing the sensitivity to ricin eight fold. The Man6P receptor-mediated toxicity of Man6P-ricin is not affected by this treatment, although the galactose-inhibited route is potentiated eight fold. The Man6P-ricin hybrid appears to require the ricin B chain galactose-binding site to enter the cytosol after initially binding to the Man6P receptor. These data provide some insights into the proper design of hybrid toxins. We discuss a number of possible models for hybrid toxin entry.[1]


  1. Studies on the galactose-binding site of ricin and the hybrid toxin Man6P-ricin. Youle, R.J., Murray, G.J., Neville, D.M. Cell (1981) [Pubmed]
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