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J Biol Chem. 2001 Mar 9;276(10):7202-8. Epub 2000 Dec 11.

An interaction between ricin and calreticulin that may have implications for toxin trafficking.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, United Kingdom.


Here we demonstrate that ricin is able to interact with the molecular chaperone calreticulin both in vitro and in vivo. The interaction occurred with ricin holotoxin, but not with free ricin A chain; and it was prevented in the presence of lactose, suggesting that it was mediated by the lectin activity of the ricin B chain. This lectin is galactose-specific, and metabolic labeling with [(3)H]galactose or treating galactose oxidase-modified calreticulin with sodium [(3)H]borohydride indicated that Vero cell calreticulin possesses a terminally galactosylated oligosaccharide. Brefeldin A treatment indicated that the intracellular interaction occurred initially in a post-Golgi stack compartment, possibly the trans-Golgi network, whereas the reductive separation of ricin subunits occurred in an earlier part of the secretory pathway, most probably the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Intoxicating Vero cells with ricin whose A chain had been modified to include either a tyrosine sulfation site or the sulfation site plus available N-glycosylation sites, in the presence of Na(2)35SO(4), confirmed that calreticulin interacted with endocytosed ricin that had already undergone retrograde transport to both the Golgi and the ER. Although we cannot exclude the possibility that the interaction between ricin and calreticulin is an indirect one, the data presented are consistent with the idea that calreticulin may function as a recycling carrier for retrograde transport of ricin from the Golgi to the ER.

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