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Entry of diphtheria toxin into cells: possible existence of cellular factor(s) for entry of diphtheria toxin into cells was studied in somatic cell hybrids and hybrid toxins

The Journal of Cell Biology
The Rockefeller University Press
Publication Date
  • Articles
  • Biology


Ehrlich ascites tumor cells were found to be very insensitive to diphtheria toxin. We formed 37 hybrids from Ehrlich tumor cells and diphtheria toxin-sensitive human fibroblasts. The effects of diphtheria toxin on protein synthesis in those hybrids were examined. The hybrids were divided into three groups on the basis of toxin sensitivity. Group A hybrids were as sensitive to diphtheria toxin as human fibroblasts, Group C were as resistant as Ehrlich tumor cells, and Group B had intermediate sensitivity. Group A hybrids had diphtheria toxin-binding sites but Group B and C had no detectable binding sites. Elongation factor-2 of all the hybrids was susceptible to ADP-ribosylation by fragment A of diphtheria toxin. Cells of Group A and B became more sensitive to CRM 45 (cross-reacting material 45 of diphtheria toxin) after they were exposed to low pH (pH = 4.5). The resistance of Group C to CRM 45 was not affected by the same treatment. Group A and B hybrids and human fibroblasts had similar sensitivities to a hybrid toxin composed of wheat germ agglutinin and fragment A of diphtheria toxin, but Group C and Ehrlich tumor cells were resistant to this hybrid toxin. All the hybrids and Ehrlich tumor cells were more sensitive to a hybrid toxin composed of wheat germ agglutinin and subunit A of ricin than were human fibroblasts. On subcloning of Group B hybrids, one Group C hybrid was obtained, but no Group A hybrid. These facts suggest that Ehrlich ascites tumor cells differ from human fibroblasts in the expression of a factor(s) that is involved in entry of fragment A of diphtheria toxin into the cytoplasm after the toxin binds to its surface receptors.

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