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Free Content Signal peptide-regulated toxicity of a plant ribosome-inactivating protein during cell stress

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The fate of the type I ribosome-inactivating protein (RIP) saporin when initially targeted to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) in tobacco protoplasts has been examined. We find that saporin expression causes a marked decrease in protein synthesis, indicating that a fraction of the toxin reaches the cytosol and inactivates tobacco ribosomes. We determined that saporin is largely secreted but some is retained intracellularly, most likely in a vacuolar compartment, thus behaving very differently from the prototype RIP ricin A chain. We also find that the signal peptide can interfere with the catalytic activity of saporin when the protein fails to be targeted to the ER membrane, and that saporin toxicity undergoes signal sequence-specific regulation when the host cell is subjected to ER stress. Replacement of the saporin signal peptide with that of the ER chaperone BiP reduces saporin toxicity and makes it independent of cell stress. We propose that this stress-induced toxicity may have a role in pathogen defence.
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Keywords: endoplasmic reticulum; ribosome-inactivating protein; ricin; saporin; signal peptide; toxicity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Dipartimento di Biologia di Base ed Applicata, Università degli Studi di L’Aquila, Via Vetoio 11, 67100 L’Aquila, Italy 2: Istituto di Biologia e Biotecnologia Agraria, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Via Bassini 15, 20133 Milano, Italy

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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