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Blocked and non-blocked ricin immunotoxins against the CD4 antigen exhibit higher cytotoxic potency than a ricin A chain immunotoxin potentiated with ricin B chain or with a ricin B chain immunotoxin


An immunotoxin consisting of ricin A chain linked to the monoclonal antibody M-T151, recognising the CD4 antigen, was weakly toxic to the human T-lymphoblastoid cell line CEM in tissue culture. The incorporation of [3H]leucine by CEM cells was inhibited by 50% at an M-T151-ricin-A-chain concentration (IC50) of 4.6 nM compared with an IC50 of 1.0 pM for ricin. In contrast, immunotoxins made by linking intact ricin to M-T151 in such a way that the galactose-binding sites of the B chain subunit were either blocked sterically by the antibody component or were left unblocked, were both powerfully cytotoxic with IC50 values of 20–30 pM. The addition of ricin B chain to CEM cells treated with M-T151—ricin-A-chain enhanced cytotoxicity by only eight-fold indicating that isolated B chain potentiated the action of the A chain less effectively than it did as an integral component of an intact ricin immunotoxin. Ricin B chain linked to goat anti-(mouse immunoglobulin) also potentiated weakly.

Lactose completely inhibited the ability of isolated ricin B chain to potentiate the cytotoxicity of M-T151—ricin-A-chain and partially (3- to 4-fold) inhibited the cytotoxicity of the blocked and non-blocked ricin immunotoxins. Thus, in this system, the galactose-binding sites of the B chain contributed to cell killing regardless of whether isolated B chain was associated with the A chain immunotoxin or was present in blocked or non-blocked form as part of an intact ricin immunotoxin. The findings suggest that the blocked ricin immunotoxin may become unblocked after binding to the target antigen to re-expose the cryptic galactose-binding sites. However, the unblocking cannot be complete because the maximal inhibition of [3H]leucine incorporation by the blocked immunotoxin was only 80% compared with greater than 99% inhibition by the non-blocked immunotoxin.

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Correspondence to Edward J. Wawrzynczak.

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Wawrzynczak, E.J., Watson, G.J., Cumber, A.J. et al. Blocked and non-blocked ricin immunotoxins against the CD4 antigen exhibit higher cytotoxic potency than a ricin A chain immunotoxin potentiated with ricin B chain or with a ricin B chain immunotoxin. Cancer Immunol Immunother 32, 289–295 (1991).

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  • Lactose
  • Leucine
  • Target Antigen
  • Mouse Immunoglobulin
  • Leucine Incorporation