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Structures and Ribosomal Interaction of Ribosome-Inactivating Proteins
Open AccessReview

Ribosome-Inactivating Proteins from Plants: A Historical Overview

Department of Experimental, Diagnostic and Specialty Medicine-DIMES, Alma Mater Studiorum, University of Bologna, Via San Giacomo 14, 40126 Bologna, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: Els Van Damme
Molecules 2016, 21(12), 1627;
Received: 7 November 2016 / Revised: 22 November 2016 / Accepted: 23 November 2016 / Published: 26 November 2016
This review provides a historical overview of the research on plant ribosome-inactivating proteins (RIPs), starting from the first studies at the end of eighteenth century involving the purification of abrin and ricin, as well as the immunological experiments of Paul Erlich. Interest in these plant toxins was revived in 1970 by the observation of their anticancer activity, which has given rise to a large amount of research contributing to the development of various scientific fields. Biochemistry analyses succeeded in identifying the enzymatic activity of RIPs and allowed for a better understanding of the ribosomal machinery. Studies on RIP/cell interactions were able to detail the endocytosis and intracellular routing of ricin, thus increasing our knowledge of how cells handle exogenous proteins. The identification of new RIPs and the finding that most RIPs are single-chain polypeptides, together with their genetic sequencing, has aided in the development of new phylogenetic theories. Overall, the biological properties of these proteins, including their abortifacient, anticancer, antiviral and neurotoxic activities, suggest that RIPs could be utilized in agriculture and in many biomedical fields, including clinical drug development. View Full-Text
Keywords: anticancer drugs; antiviral proteins; immunotoxins; plant lectins; plant toxins; ribosome-inactivating proteins; ricin; science history anticancer drugs; antiviral proteins; immunotoxins; plant lectins; plant toxins; ribosome-inactivating proteins; ricin; science history
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Bolognesi, A.; Bortolotti, M.; Maiello, S.; Battelli, M.G.; Polito, L. Ribosome-Inactivating Proteins from Plants: A Historical Overview. Molecules 2016, 21, 1627.

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