A simple fluorescence-based reporter assay to identify cellular components required for ricin toxin a chain (RTA) trafficking in yeast

Björn Becker*, Manfred J. Schmitt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Bacterial and plant A/B toxins exploit the natural trafficking pathways in eukaryotic cells to reach their intracellular target(s) in the cytosol and to ultimately kill. Such A/B toxins generally consist of an enzymatically active Asubunit (e.g., ricin toxin A (RTA)) and one or more cell binding Bsubunit(s), which are responsible for toxin binding to specific cell surface receptors. Our current knowledge of how A/B toxins are capable of efficiently intoxicating cells helped scientists to understand fundamental cellular mechanisms, like endocytosis and intracellular protein sorting in higher eukaryotic cells. From a medical point of view, it is likewise important to identify the major toxin trafficking routes to find adequate treatment solutions for patients or to eventually develop therapeutic toxin-based applications for cancer therapy. Since genome-wide analyses of A/B toxin trafficking in mammalian cells is complex, time-consuming, and expensive, several studies on A/B toxin transport have been performed in the yeast model organism Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Despite being less complex, fundamental cellular processes in yeast and higher eukaryotic cells are similar and very often results obtained in yeast can be transferred to the mammalian situation. Here, we describe a fast and easy to use reporter assay to analyze the intracellular trafficking of RTA in yeast. An essential advantage of the new assay is the opportunity to investigate not only RTA retro-translocation from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) into the cytosol, but rather endocytosis and retrograde toxin transport from the plasma membrane into the ER. The assay makes use of a reporter plasmid that allows indirect measurement of RTA toxicity through fluorescence emission of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) after in vivo translation. Since RTA efficiently prevents the initiation of protein biosynthesis by 28S rRNA depurination, this assay allows the identification of host cell proteins involved in intracellular RTA transport through the detection of changes in fluorescence emission.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere56588
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number130
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • A/b toxin
  • Cellular biology
  • Endocytosis
  • Fluorescencebased reporter assay
  • Issue 130
  • Retrograde protein transport
  • Ricin toxin a chain (RTA)
  • S. cerevisiae


Dive into the research topics of 'A simple fluorescence-based reporter assay to identify cellular components required for ricin toxin a chain (RTA) trafficking in yeast'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this