Immunity to Ricin: Fundamental Insights into Toxin–Antibody Interactions

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Abstract

Ricin toxin is an extraordinarily potent inducer of cell death and inflammation. Ricin is also a potent provocateur of the humoral immune system, eliciting a mixture of neutralizing, non-neutralizing and even toxin-enhancing antibodies. The characterization of dozens of monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against the toxin’s enzymatic (RTA) and binding (RTB) subunits has begun to reveal fundamental insights into the underlying mechanisms by which antibodies neutralize (or fail to neutralize) ricin in systemic and mucosal compartments. This information has had immediate applications in the design, development and evaluation of ricin subunit vaccines and immunotherapeutics.