It has been proposed that killing of mammalian cells by ricin requires efficient endocytic delivery to the trans-Golgi network (TGN) prior to retrograde transport to the endoplasmic reticulum and entry to the cytosol. In polarized epithelial cells, an efficient membrane-traffic pathway to the TGN is present from the basolateral but not the apical plasma-membrane domain. Thus one can hypothesize that a ricin-resistant phenotype might be demonstrated by polarized cells that fail to differentiate and thus fail to develop an efficient membrane-traffic pathway from the basolateral plasma membrane to the TGN. We have isolated and studied a ricin-resistant Caco-2 cell clone (Caco-2-RCAr clone 2) which, when grown on plastic, was deficient in differentiation, measured by the development of polarized-cell-surface marker enzymes. The deficiency in differentiation was partially reversed, and ricin sensitivity was restored, when the cells were grown on filter supports. Our data provide the first evidence of a ricin-resistant cell line where resistance is due to the lack of development of polarized cell surfaces. The observed ricin resistance is consistent with the requirement that ricin is delivered to the TGN before its A chain enters the cytosol to mediate cell killing.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.