• Open Access

Shiga toxin and its use in targeted cancer therapy and imaging

Authors

  • Nikolai Engedal,

    1. Department of Biochemistry, Institute for Cancer Research, The Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo University Hospital, Montebello, N-0310 Oslo, Norway.
    2. Centre for Cancer Biomedicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Montebello, N-0310 Oslo, Norway.
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  • Tore Skotland,

    1. Department of Biochemistry, Institute for Cancer Research, The Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo University Hospital, Montebello, N-0310 Oslo, Norway.
    2. Centre for Cancer Biomedicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Montebello, N-0310 Oslo, Norway.
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  • Maria L. Torgersen,

    1. Department of Biochemistry, Institute for Cancer Research, The Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo University Hospital, Montebello, N-0310 Oslo, Norway.
    2. Centre for Cancer Biomedicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Montebello, N-0310 Oslo, Norway.
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  • Kirsten Sandvig

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Biochemistry, Institute for Cancer Research, The Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo University Hospital, Montebello, N-0310 Oslo, Norway.
    2. Centre for Cancer Biomedicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Montebello, N-0310 Oslo, Norway.
    3. Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of Oslo, 0316 Oslo, Norway.
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E-mail ksandvig@radium.uio.no; Tel. (+47) 22781828; Fax (+47) 22781845.

Summary

Shiga and the Shiga-like toxins are related protein toxins produced by Shigella dysenteriae and certain strains of Escherichia coli. These toxins are composed of two non-covalently attached, modular parts: the A moiety (StxA) containing the enzymatically active A1 fragment, and the non-toxic, pentameric binding moiety (StxB). Stx binds specifically to the glycosphingolipid globotriaosylceramide (Gb3) at the surface of target cells and is then internalized by endocytosis. Subsequently, in toxin-sensitive cells, the Stx/Gb3 complex is transported in a retrograde manner via the Golgi apparatus to the endoplasmic reticulum, where the enzymatically active part of Stx is translocated to the cytosol, enabling it to irreversibly inhibit protein synthesis via modification of ribosomal 28S RNA. Whereas Gb3 shows a relatively restricted expression in normal human tissues, it has been reported to be highly expressed in many types of cancers. This review gives a brief introduction to Stx and its intracellular transport. Furthermore, after a description of Gb3 and the methods that are currently used to detect its cellular expression, we provide an updated overview of the published reports on Gb3 overexpression in human cancers. Finally, we discuss the possibility of utilizing Stx or StxB coupled to therapeutic compounds or contrast agents in targeted cancer therapy and imaging.

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