Ribosome-inactivating proteins, similar to those already known [Barbieri & Stirpe (1982) Cancer Surveys 1, 489-520] were purified from the seeds of Saponaria officinalis (two proteins), of Agrostemma githago (three proteins), and of Asparagus officinalis (three proteins), and from the latex of Hura crepitans (one protein). The yield ranged from 8 to 400 mg/100 g of starting material. All proteins have an Mr of approx. 30000 and an alkaline isoelectric point. Their sugar content varies from 0 (proteins from S. officinalis) to 40% (protein from H. crepitans). The ribosome-inactivating proteins inhibit protein synthesis by rabbit reticulocyte lysate, the ID50 (concentration giving 50% inhibition) ranging from 1 ng/ml (a protein from S. officinalis) to 18 ng/ml (a protein from A. githago). Those which were tested (the proteins from S. officinalis and from A. githago) also inhibit polymerization of phenylalanine by isolated ribosomes, acting in an apparently catalytic manner. The protein from H. crepitans inhibited protein synthesis by HeLa cells, with an ID50 of 4 micrograms/ml, whereas the proteins from S. officinalis and from A. githago had an ID50 of more than 50-100 micrograms/ml. The ribosome-inactivating proteins from S. officinalis and from A. githago reduced the number of local lesions by tobacco-mosaic virus in the leaves of Nicotiana glutinosa.

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