Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ricin’s Deadly Action Revealed by Glowing Probes

11.08.2008
A new chemical probe can rapidly detect ricin, a deadly poison with no known antidote that is feared to be a potential weapon for terrorists and cannot quickly be identified with currently available tests.

The probe, developed by chemists at UC San Diego, glows when bound to a ricin-damaged part of the body’s protein-making machinery, they report in the international edition of the journal Angewandte Chemie. Because the test pinpoints the specific injury underlying the poison’s toxicity, it could also help to develop drugs to counteract the effect of ricin.

Ricin toxin is among the most deadly. Just 400 micrograms, about the size of a grain of salt, is enough to kill an adult, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. Several other toxins including saporin and sarcin all cause harm in similar ways.

These poisons nick a crucial loop of RNA that is part of the cellular structure that synthesizes proteins called the ribosome. That small alteration, the loss of a single piece at the apex the loop, is enough to shut down the manufacture of proteins. Damage of this type is unusual in the absence of these specific toxins.

“We found a chemical reporter that detects a relatively rare event, one that is related to the action of the toxin,” said Yitzhak Tor, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UCSD.

Tor, along with postdoctoral researcher Seergazhi Srivatsan and graduate student Nicholas Greco, created a short string of RNA building blocks, or nucleotides, that will attach to the loop. At one position, matching the site ricin damages, they substituted a synthetic nucleoside that glows when the piece that belongs there is missing. If the toxin has damaged the loop, ultraviolet light shone on the sample will fluoresce bright blue.

“Our reporter probe shows that the reaction is taking place,” Tor said. “When there’s no toxin, there will be no light emission.”

Ricin worries security experts because the toxin, an extract of castor beans, is relatively easy to make and difficult to detect. Right now, tests rely on antibodies that recognize the ricin toxin protein itself, which take at least 48 hours to complete, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The new test works quickly; it can reveal the presence of damaged ribosome loops in less than 30 minutes.

Tor’s team has developed their probe using isolated RNA loops. These will be the basis for the future design of a sensitive chip that could be used in the field to detect quickly the presence of dangerous toxins.

And because their probe detects the action, rather than merely the presence of the toxin, it could be used to develop ways to help people who have been exposed, Tor said. “Now that we have an assay that senses the toxin’s activity, we can try to discover inhibitors of the toxin or antidotes.”

The National Institute for General Medical Sciences funded this research.

Contact: Yitzhak Tor, (858) 534-6401
Media Contact: Susan Brown, (858) 246-0161

Susan Brown | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucsd.edu

Further reports about: Protein RNA Ricin toxin Toxin ribosome loops ricin saporin sarcin synthetic nucleoside

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Warming ponds could accelerate climate change
21.02.2017 | University of Exeter

nachricht An alternative to opioids? Compound from marine snail is potent pain reliever
21.02.2017 | University of Utah

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>