Journal Article

The enemy within: ricin and plant cells

Lorenzo Frigerio and Lynne M. Roberts

in Journal of Experimental Botany

Published on behalf of Society for Experimental Biology

Volume 49, issue 326, pages 1473-1480
Published in print September 1998 | ISSN: 0022-0957
Published online September 1998 | e-ISSN: 1460-2431 | DOI:
The enemy within: ricin and plant cells

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Ricin, a ribosome-inactivating protein from the seeds of the castor oil plant (Ricinus communis L.) is one of the most potent cell poisons known. It is able to bind and enter most mammalian cells where it exploits their fully reversible secretory pathway to reach the endoplasmic reticulum. Ricin is then able to exit the endoplasmic reticulum to access the cytosol where it inhibits protein synthesis, thus killing the cells. Castor bean ribosomes are sensitive to ricin, but the plant has developed strategies to protect its own cells from suicide. The intracellular routing of ricin has been traditionally studied by exogenously adding toxin to mammalian cells and by following its path through the cell. However, the extreme potency of this protein has prevented the final membrane transport step from being studied in detail. Now, the expression of ricin in heterologous plant cells is proving helpful in elucidating details of both toxin biosynthesis and vacuolar targeting, and in studying membrane translocation of the catalytic subunit from the endoplasmic reticulum to the cytosol.

Keywords: Ricin; ribosome-inactivating protein; castor oil plant; seeds; inhibitor; membrane transport

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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