Binding and Uptake of the Toxic Lectins Abrin and Ricin by Mammalian Cells

  • Sjur Olsnes
  • Kirsten Sandvig
  • Karin Refsnes
  • Øystein Fodstad
  • Alexander Pihl
Part of the NATO Advanced Study Institutes Series book series (NSSA, volume 11)


Abrin and ricin are two toxic glycoproteins present in the seeds of Abrus precatorius and Ricinus communis. Both toxins are extremely potent, and upon intravenous injection into mice doses of about 13 ng of abrin or 65 ng of ricin are lethal in the course of a few days. With increasing amounts of toxin the survival time is reduced, but even very high doses fail to reduce the survival time to less than about 10 hours (Fig. 1). After intravenous injection of a certain amount of toxin the survival time can be predicted with surprising accuracy. Abrin and ricin are also very toxic to eukaryotic cells in culture, and a few picograms/ml will kill most cells within 24 hours. The toxins have no effect on the growth of bacteria.


HeLa Cell Inhibit Protein Synthesis Lactose Concentration Irreversible Binding Rabbit Reticulocyte Lysate 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sjur Olsnes
    • 1
  • Kirsten Sandvig
    • 1
  • Karin Refsnes
    • 1
  • Øystein Fodstad
    • 1
  • Alexander Pihl
    • 1
  1. 1.Norsk Hydro’s Institute for Cancer ResearchMontebello, OsloNorway

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