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PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e49075. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049075. Epub 2012 Nov 1.

Identification of small molecules that suppress ricin-induced stress-activated signaling pathways.

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  • 1Division of Infectious Diseases, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Albany, New York, United States of America.


Ricin is a member of the ribosome-inactivating protein (RIP) family of plant and bacterial toxins. In this study we used a high-throughput, cell-based assay to screen more than 118,000 compounds from diverse chemical libraries for molecules that reduced ricin-induced cell death. We describe three compounds, PW66, PW69, and PW72 that at micromolar concentrations significantly delayed ricin-induced cell death. None of the compounds had any demonstrable effect on ricin's ability to arrest protein synthesis in cells or on ricin's enzymatic activity as assessed in vitro. Instead, all three compounds appear to function by blocking downstream stress-induced signaling pathways associated with the toxin-mediated apoptosis. PW66 virtually eliminated ricin-induced TNF-α secretion by J774A.1 macrophages and concomitantly blocked activation of the p38 MAPK and JNK signaling pathways. PW72 suppressed ricin-induced TNF-α secretion, but not p38 MAPK and JNK signaling. PW69 suppressed activity of the executioner caspases 3/7 in ricin toxin- and Shiga toxin 2-treated cells. While the actual molecular targets of the three compounds have yet to be identified, these data nevertheless underscore the potential of small molecules to down-regulate inflammatory signaling pathways associated with exposure to the RIP family of toxins.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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