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Fungal ribotoxin

Fungal ribotoxins are a group of extracellular ribonucleases secreted by fungi. Its most notable characteristic is their extraordinary specificity, they inactivate the ribosomes by cutting a single phosphodiester bond of the rRNA, found in a universally conserved sequence. This cleavage leads to cell death by apoptosis. However, since they are extracellular proteins, they must first enter the cells that constitute their target to exert their cytotoxic action; this entry constitutes the rate-determining step of their action. No protein receptor has been found. Thus, in order to penetrate the cells they must take advantage of changes in permeability and the biophysical properties of the membranes, produced by phenomena such as tumour transformation or a viral infection; this is the reason why α-sarcin, the most representative member of the group, was discovered as an antitumoural agent.. It turned out not to be as safe as needed and the research in this field was temporarily abandoned. One of the determining factors in this process of entry into cells appears to be their ability to interact with phospholipids whose polar headgroup shows a net negative electrical charge.

Today it is known that ribotoxins constitute a broad family, produced by many types of fungi, with common characteristics that make them optimal candidates to be used for biotechnological purposes, such as pest control, for the development of anti-cancer drugs in the form of immunotoxins. Ribotoxins have been detected in many different fungi, including entomopathogenic and edible species, but the three-dimensional structure has only been resolved for three of them: α-sarcin and hirsutellin A; the first two, produced by Aspergillus giganteus and Aspergillus restrictus are nearly identical. HtA, produced by the entomopathogenic fungus Hirsutella thompsonii, is much smaller and only shows 25% sequence identity with the other larger ribotoxins. So, it still retains all the functional characteristics of the family. A second ribotoxin similar to HtA, anisoplin, is known, it is produced by another insect pathogen. All known ribotoxins are proteins of between 130 and 150 amino acids that share at least two different elements of ordered secondary structure: a β-sheet, where the active center is located, a short α-helix.

The structural arrangement is similar to that of other extracellular fungal RNases, which are not toxic, constitute a family whose best known representative is the RNase T1 of Aspergillus oryzae. This explains; the observation of their three-dimensional structures reveals their functional differences in terms of toxicity, since ribotoxins present unordered, positively charged long loops, which are much shorter, negatively charged, in their non-toxic "relatives". These ribotoxin bonds are responsible for recognition of both the negatively charged acid phospholipids that facilitate their entry into cells, the ribosome-specific features that allow them to cause inactivation. Ribotoxins cleave RNA following a general acid-base mechanism shared by all the extracellular fungal RNases so far characterized, regardless of their toxicity. Using dinucleosides, such as GpA, it has been demonstrated that the breakage of the phosphodiester bond 3′-5′ of the substrate takes place through the formation of a cyclic intermediate that becomes the corresponding derivative 3′-monophosphate, the final product of the reaction.

It is a transfosphorylation reaction, followed by the hydrolysis of this cyclic intermediate. For this reason, these proteins are knows as cyclant RNases. Ribotoxins cut a single phosphodiester bond within the preserved sequence found in the sarcin/ricin loop, it is a segment of rRNA. It is known as SRL because it is the target of both α-sarcin and ricin. Ricin is the best known representative of the ribosomal inactivating protein family. RIPs are highly specialized toxic proteins produced by plants and fungi that inactivate ribosomes acting as N-glycosidases, its target is found in the same singular structure of the rRNA, attacked by ribotoxins. They depurinate a single nucleotide, contiguous to the phosphodiester bond that constitutes the target of the ribotoxins, producing the same inactivating effect of the ribosome. According to this criterion, ribotoxins are RIPs. However, there is a general consensus to use this name only for plant N-glycosidases, whereas the term ribotoxins refers only to toxic fungal RNases.

In both cases, both ribotoxins and RIPs produce complete inactivation of the ribosome by causing the SRL loop to be unable to interact with the elongation factors of the translation. It has been determined, using E. coli, that the binding of the elongation factor G is the most disturbed event by the catalytic action of these toxins. The positively charged ribotoxin surface allows them to establish favourable electrostatic interactions between the residues of their active site and the rRNA, explaining why they can carry out this specific recognition of the SRL; the toxicity of ribotoxins results from the combination of their specific catalytic activity and their ability to cross lipid membranes. Since no protein receptor has been found, the lipid composition of these membranes is a determining factor of their cytotoxic activity. Using phospholipid model systems it has been demonstrated that α-sarcin is able to bind to lipid vesicles enriched in acid phospholipids, promoting their aggregation, leading to fusion, altering their permeability.

This allows the protein to be translocated through certain lipid bilayers in absence o

John Comber

John Howard Comber was an English cricketer. Comber's batting and bowling style is unknown, he was born at Brighton and died at Lowell, Massachusetts. Comber made his first-class debut for Sussex against Kent at Bat and Ball Ground, Gravesend in 1885, he made two further first-class appearances for Sussex that season, against Hampshire at the County Ground and Gloucestershire at the College Ground, Cheltenham. He struggled in his three first-class matches, scoring just 28 runs at an average of 5.60, with a high score of 8. At some point in his life he moved to the United States where in 1892 he is recorded as an "overseer" in his marriage to Lucy Johnson in Lowell, Massachusetts, he featured in a match for Massachusetts against Lord Hawke's XI in 1894. He died in 1903. John Comber at ESPNcricinfo John Comber at CricketArchive