Uptake of diphtheria toxin and its fragment A moiety by mammalian cells in culture.


Evidence suggesting that diphtheria toxin reaches the cytoplasm of susceptible mammalian cells by two independent mechanisms is presented. A schematic model describing the two processes of toxin entry into the cell is developed. One process of toxin uptake considered to by physiologically significant is passage of the protein toxin through the plasma membrane. This most likely happens by binding of fragment B to receptors on the membrane and by subsequent toxin-membrane interaction so that ultimately fragment A, the enzymatically active moiety, is transported tothe cell interior. This process, which ultimately leads to cessation of protein synthesis and cell death, involves a comparatively small number of toxin molecules. A second mechanism of toxin uptake is by classical pinocytosis. The majority of toxin taken into the cell is accomplished by this process. The fate of toxin taken into HEp-2 cells via pinocytosis is proteolysis by lysosomal enzymes. Thus, such vesicle-bound toxin is ordinarily not expressed biologically. Evidence suggesting that ammonium chloride provides total protection to diphtheria toxin-susceptible cells by preventing entry of toxin by the specific receptor-associated process is also provided; data showing that the ammonium salt immobilizes bound toxin on the plasma membrane of HEp-2 cells are presented. Finally, it is suggested that actively endocytic cells such as guinea pig macrophages interact with toxin in a significantly different manner than do nonphagocytic cells.


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@article{Saelinger1976UptakeOD, title={Uptake of diphtheria toxin and its fragment A moiety by mammalian cells in culture.}, author={Catharine B. Saelinger and Peter F. Bonventre and Bruce E. Ivins and David C. Straus}, journal={Infection and immunity}, year={1976}, volume={14 3}, pages={742-51} }