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J Physiol (Paris). 1990;84(3):191-6.

Translocation of diphtheria toxin to the cytosol and formation of cation selective channels.

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Institute for Cancer Research, Norwegian Radium Hospital, Montebello, Oslo.


A number of protein toxins act by translocating an enzymatically active polypeptide to the cytosol. The translocation process is best understood in the case of diphtheria toxin which binds to cell surface receptors, is then taken up by endocytosis and is subsequently translocated to the cytosol, where it inactivates elongation factor 2. The translocation of the enzymatically active part of the toxin can be induced at the level of the plasma membrane upon exposure to low pH of cells with surface-bound toxin. Receptor molecules appear to be involved in the translocation process, which also requires an inward directed H(+)-gradient and permeant anions. Cation-selective channels are formed in the membrane upon toxin entry. The B-fragment alone is much more efficient in inducing channels than the whole toxin. The current model of the translocation process is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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