Recommended Mass Spectrometry-Based Strategies to Identify Ricin-Containing Samples
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Recommended Mass Spectrometry-Based Strategies to Identify Ricin-Containing Samples

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  • Alternative Title:
    Toxins (Basel)
  • Description:
    Ricin is a protein toxin produced by the castor bean plant (Ricinus communis) together with a related protein known as R. communis agglutinin (RCA120). Mass spectrometric (MS) assays have the capacity to unambiguously identify ricin and to detect ricin's activity in samples with complex matrices. These qualitative and quantitative assays enable detection and differentiation of ricin from the less toxic RCA120 through determination of the amino acid sequence of the protein in question, and active ricin can be monitored by MS as the release of adenine from the depurination of a nucleic acid substrate. In this work, we describe the application of MS-based methods to detect, differentiate and quantify ricin and RCA120 in nine blinded samples supplied as part of the EQuATox proficiency test. Overall, MS-based assays successfully identified all samples containing ricin or RCA120 with the exception of the sample spiked with the lowest concentration (0.414 ng/mL). In fact, mass spectrometry was the most successful method for differentiation of ricin and RCA120 based on amino acid determination. Mass spectrometric methods were also successful at ranking the functional activities of the samples, successfully yielding semi-quantitative results. These results indicate that MS-based assays are excellent techniques to detect, differentiate, and quantify ricin and RCA120 in complex matrices.
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