Recombinant mistletoe lectin (rML) belongs to the class of type II ribosome-inactivating proteins (RIP) composed of a catalytically active A-chain with rRNA N-glycosidase activity and a B-chain with carbohydrate binding properties. To investigate the contribution of the enzymatic activity of the rML A-chain to the observed cytotoxic and apoptotic effects, an rMLA E166Q R169Q molecule was developed by means of site-specific mutagenesis. Following heterologous expression, the activity of mutant rMLA was measured in a cell-free assay for rRNA-N-glycosidase activity. Moreover, after generation of heterodimer, the activities of mutant rML E166Q R169Q and rML wild type were determined in a cytotoxicity and apoptosis assay. Although the reduction of activity as measured in the cell-free RIP assay was more pronounced (factor 237) than in both cellular assays (factors 20-22), the data clearly indicate a close correlation between cytotoxicity, apoptosis, and the enzymatic activity of the rML A-chain. Thus, RIP activity is an essential feature of rML and therefore a prerequisite for its biological function as an anticancer agent.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.