Hybridoma cells which synthesize monoclonal antibodies (mAb) that block ricin toxicity were 50-300-fold resistant to ricin compared with other hybridomas. Two of the mAb blocked two isozymes of ricin, D and E, to different and opposite extents, and the hybridoma cell resistance to the two forms of ricin closely corresponded with the mAb reactivity. The hybridoma cell resistance to ricin was therefore due to the binding activity of the mAb produced by the cells. Neither rabbit polyclonal antibodies, which neutralized extracellular anti-ricin mAb, nor quantitative removal of hybridoma cell surface IgG with papain affected the cellular resistance to ricin. Therefore, neither extracellular or cell surface antibodies contributed to the resistance of the hybridoma cells. In contrast, inhibition of protein synthesis by cycloheximide or puromycin, which selectively decreased levels of intracellular secretory IgG, decreased the hybridoma cell resistance to ricin. We conclude that intracellular mAb, synthesized de novo for subsequent secretion, block ricin toxicity. Ricin therefore must meet intracellular secretory antibodies before reaching the cytosol. The monoclonal antibodies can also be used to study toxin function within intracellular compartments. An antibody specific for the galactose-binding site of ricin blocks ricin intracellularly, showing that the ricin galactose-binding activity is required in an intracellular compartment for transport of ricin A chain to the cytosol.
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