Ricin is transported from early endosomes and/or the recycling compartment to the trans-Golgi network (TGN) and subsequently to the endoplasmic recticulum (ER) before it enters the cytosol and intoxicates cells. We have investigated the role of the Rab6 isoforms in retrograde transport of ricin using both oligo- and vector-based RNAi assays. Ricin transport to the TGN was inhibited by the depletion of Rab6A when the Rab6A messenger RNA (mRNA) levels were reduced by more than 40% and less than 75%. However, when Rab6A mRNA was reduced by more than 75% and Rab6A' mRNA was simultaneously up-regulated, the inhibition of ricin sulfation was abolished, indicating that the up-regulation of Rab6A' may compensate for the loss of Rab6A function. In addition, we found that a near complete depletion of Rab6A' gave approximately 40% reduction in ricin sulfation. The up-regulation of Rab6A mRNA levels did not seem to compensate for the loss of Rab6A' function. The depletion of both Rab6A and Rab6A' gave a stronger inhibition of ricin sulfation than what was observed knocking down the two isoforms separately. In conclusion, both Rab6A and Rab6A' seem to be involved in the transport of ricin from endosomes to the Golgi apparatus.
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