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Saporin, which is extracted from Saponaria officinalis, is a protein toxin that inactivates ribosomes. Saporin itself is non-selective toxin but acquires high specificity after conjugation with different ligands such as signaling peptides or antibodies to some surface proteins expressed in a chosen cell subpopulation. The saporin-based conjugated toxins were widely adopted in neuroscience as a convenient tool to induce highly selective degeneration of desired cell subpopulation. Induction of selective cell death is one of approaches used to model neurodegenerative diseases, study functions of certain cell subpopulations in the brain, and therapy. Here, we review studies where saporin-based conjugates were used to analyze cell mechanisms of sleep, general anesthesia, epilepsy, pain, and development of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. Limitations and future perspectives of use of saporin-based toxins in neuroscience are discussed.


Alexey P Bolshakov, Mikhail Yu Stepanichev, Yulia V Dobryakova, Yulia S Spivak, Vladimir A Markevich. Saporin from Saponaria officinalis as a Tool for Experimental Research, Modeling, and Therapy in Neuroscience. Toxins. 2020 Aug 25;12(9)

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PMID: 32854372

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