This review describes the nature and applications of ribosome inactivating proteins (RIPs) from Momordica charantia (bitter melon). RIPs from the plant kingdom have received much attention in biomedical research because they target conserved host protein synthesis machinery and show specificity towards human and animal cell targets. Recent studies aimed at unravelling the enzymatic activities of the M charantia RIPs provide a structural basis for their activities. It has been reported that RIPs are member of the single chain ribosome inactivating protein (SCRIP) family which act irreversibly on ribosome by removing adenine residue from eukaryotic ribosomal RNA. Various activities of RIPs include anti-tumor, broad anti-viral, ribonuclease and deoxyribonuclease. MAP30 (Momordica Anti-HIV Protein), α- and β-momorcharins inhibit HIV replication in acutely and chronically infected cells and thus are considered potential therapeutic agent in HIV infection and AIDS. Further, MAP30 improved the efficacy of anti-HIV therapy when used in combination with other anti-viral drugs. MAP30 holds therapeutic promise over other RIPs because not only it is active against infection and replication of both HSV and HIV but is non toxic to normal cells. Here we review the nature, action, structure function relationship and applications of RIPs from Momordica charantia and evaluate their potential for anticancer and anti-viral therapy.
Keywords: Momordica charantia, Ribosome inactivating proteins (RIPs), anti-viral, MAP30, Momorcharins, HIV, AIDS
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