The removal of carbohydrates from ricin with endoglycosidases H, F and D and α-mannosidase

B. M J Foxwell, T. A. Donovan, P. E. Thorpe, G. Wilson

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70 Scopus citations


Recently, several investigators have explored the possibility of targetting ricin to designated cell types in animals by its linkage to specific antibodies. There is evidence, however, that the mannose-containing oligosaccharide chains on ricin are recognised by reticuloendothelial cells in the liver and spleen and so cause the immunotoxins to be removed rapidly from the blood stream. In the present study we analysed the carbohydrate composition of ricin and examined enzymic methods for removing the carbohydrate. The carbohydrate analysis ricin A-chain revealed the presence of one residue of xylose and one of fucose in addition to mannose and N-acetylglucosamine which had been detected previously. The B-chain contained only mannose and N-acetylglycosamine. Ricin A-chain is heterogeneous containing two components of molecular weight 30 000 and 32 000. Strong evidence was found that the heavier form of the A-chain contains an extra carbohydrate unit which is heterogeneous with respect to concanavalin A binding and sensitivity to endoglycosidase H. The lower molecular weight form of A-chain did not bind concanavalin A and was insusceptible to endoglycosidases. Only one of the two high mannose oligosaccharide units on the isolated B-chain could be removed by endoglycosidases H or F, whereas both were removable after denaturation of the polypeptide by SDS. Both the isolated A- and B-chains were sensitive to α-mannosidase. Intact ricin was resistant to endoglycosidase treatment and was only slightly sensitive to α-mannosidase. The addition of SDS allowed endoglycosidase H to remove both of the B-chain oligosaccharides from intact ricin and increased the toxin's sensitivity to α-mannosidase. In conclusion, extensive enzymic deglycosylation of ricin may only be possible if the A- and B-chains are first separated, treated with enzymes and then recombined to form the toxin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-203
Number of pages11
JournalBBA - General Subjects
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 18 1985


  • Carbohydrate analysis
  • Deglycosylation
  • Endoglycosidase
  • Ricin
  • α-Mannosidase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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