Uptake of native and deglycosylated ricin A-chain immunotoxins by mouse liver parenchymal and non-parenchymal cells in vitro and in vivo

David C. Blakey, David N. Skilleter, Roger J. Price, Philip E. Thorpe

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39 Scopus citations


The therapeutic activity of ricin A-chain immunotoxins is undermined by their rapid clearance from the bloodstream of animals by the liver. This uptake has generally been attributed to recognition of the mannose-terminating oligosaccharides present on ricin A-chain by receptors present on the non-parenchymal (Kupffer and sinusoidal) cells of the liver. However, we demonstrate here that, in the mouse, the liver uptake of a ricin A-chain immunotoxin occurs in both parenchymal and non-parenchymal cells in equal amounts. This is in contrast to the situation in the rat, where uptake of the immunotoxin is predominantly by the non-parenchymal cells. Recognition of sugar residues on the A-chain portion of the immunotoxin plays an important role in the liver uptake by both cell types in both species. However it is not the only mechanism since, firstly, an immunotoxin containing ricin A-chain which had been effectively deglycosylated with metaperiodate and cyanoborohydride was still trapped to a significant extent by hepatic non-parenchymal cells after it was injected into mice. Secondly, deglycosylation, while eliminating uptake of the free A-chain by parenchymal and non-parenchymal cells in vitro, only reduced the uptake of an immunotoxin by either cell type by about half. Thirdly, the addition of excess d-mannose or l-fucose inhibited the uptake of free A-chain by mouse liver cell cultures by more than 80% but only inhibited the uptake of the native A-chain immunotoxin by about half and had little effect on the uptake of the deglycosylated ricin A-chain immunotoxin. Recognition of the antibody portion of the immunotoxin by liver cells seems improbable, since antibody alone or an antibody-bovine serum albumin conjugate were not taken up in appreciable amounts by the cultures. Possibly attachment of the A-chain to the antibody exposes sites on the A-chain that are recognised by liver cells in vitro and in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)172-178
Number of pages7
JournalBBA - Molecular Cell Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 22 1988


  • (Mouse liver)
  • Deglycosylation
  • Glycoprotein uptake
  • Ricin A-chain immunotoxin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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