Yeast killer toxin k28: Biology and unique strategy of host cell intoxication and killing

Björn Becker, Manfred J. Schmitt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


The initial discovery of killer toxin-secreting brewery strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (S. cerevisiae) in the mid-sixties of the last century marked the beginning of intensive research in the yeast virology field. So far, four different S. cerevisiae killer toxins (K28, K1, K2, and Klus), encoded by cytoplasmic inherited double-stranded RNA viruses (dsRNA) of the Totiviridae family, have been identified. Among these, K28 represents the unique example of a yeast viral killer toxin that enters a sensitive cell by receptor-mediated endocytosis to reach its intracellular target(s). This review summarizes and discusses the most recent advances and current knowledge on yeast killer toxin K28, with special emphasis on its endocytosis and intracellular trafficking, pointing towards future directions and open questions in this still timely and fascinating field of killer yeast research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number333
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • A/B toxin
  • Cell cycle arrest
  • Cell wall receptor
  • H/KDEL receptor
  • K28
  • Killer toxin
  • Retrograde protein transport
  • Retrotranslocation
  • S. cerevisiae
  • Toxin immunity


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