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Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2002;18:1-24. Epub 2002 Apr 2.

Membrane traffic exploited by protein toxins.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Institute for Cancer Research, The Norwegian Radium Hospital, Montebello, 0310 Oslo, Norway. ksandvig@radium.uio.no


A large number of protein toxins having enzymatically active A- and B-moieties that bind to cell surface receptors must be endocytosed before the A-moiety is translocated into the cytosol where it exerts its cytotoxic action. The accumulated information about the most well-studied toxins has provided a detailed picture of how they exploit the membrane trafficking systems of cells, and studies of toxin trafficking have revealed the existence of new pathways. The complexity of different endocytic mechanisms, as well as the multiple routes between endosomes and the Golgi apparatus and retrogradely to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), are being unravelled by investigations of how toxins gain access to their targets. With increasing information about the internalization and intracellular trafficking of these opportunistic toxins, new avenues have been opened for their application in areas of medicine such as drug delivery and therapy.

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