Fungal Ribotoxins: A Review of Potential Biotechnological Applications

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Fungi establish a complex network of biological interactions with other organisms in nature. In many cases, these involve the production of toxins for survival or colonization purposes. Among these toxins, ribotoxins stand out as promising candidates for their use in biotechnological applications.They constitute a group of highly specific extracellular ribonucleases that target a universally conserved sequence of RNA in the ribosome, the sarcin-ricin loop. The detailed molecular study of this family of toxic proteins over the past decades has highlighted their potential in applied research. Remarkable examples would be the recent studies in the field of cancer research with promising results involving ribotoxin-based immunotoxins. On the other hand, some ribotoxin-producer fungi have already been studied in the control of insect pests. The recent role of ribotoxins as insecticides could allow their employment in formulas and even as baculovirus-based biopesticides. Moreover, considering the important role of their target in the ribosome, they can be used as tools to study how ribosome biogenesis is regulated and, eventually, may contribute to a better understanding of some ribosomopathies.
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