Targeting Receptors on Cancer Cells with Protein Toxins

Biomolecules. 2020 Sep 17;10(9):1331. doi: 10.3390/biom10091331.


Cancer cells frequently upregulate surface receptors that promote growth and survival. These receptors constitute valid targets for intervention. One strategy involves the delivery of toxic payloads with the goal of killing those cancer cells with high receptor levels. Delivery can be accomplished by attaching a toxic payload to either a receptor-binding antibody or a receptor-binding ligand. Generally, the cell-binding domain of the toxin is replaced with a ligand or antibody that dictates a new binding specificity. The advantage of this "immunotoxin" approach lies in the potency of these chimeric molecules for killing cancer cells. However, receptor expression on normal tissue represents a significant obstacle to therapeutic intervention.

Keywords: cancer; diphtheria; immunotoxin; pseudomonas; receptor; ricin; toxin.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural