We describe here three different hamster cell mutants which are resistant to diphtheria toxin and which provide models for investigating some of the functions required by the toxin inactivates elongation factor 2 (EF-2). Cell-free extracts from mutants Dtx(r)-3 was codominant. The evidence suggests that the codominant phenotype is the result of a mutation in a gene coding for EF-2. The recessive phenotype might arise by alteration of an enzyme which modifies the structure of EF-2 so that it becomes a substrate for reaction with the toxin. Another mutant, Dtx(r)-2, contained EF-2 that was sensitive to the toxin and this phenotype was recessive.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa exotoxin is known to inactivate EF-2 as does diphtheria toxin and we tested the mutants for cross-resistance to pseudomonas exotoxin. Dtx(r)-1 and Dtx(r)-3 were cross-resistant while Dtx(r)-2 was not. It is known that diphtheria toxin does not penetrate to the cytoplasm of mouse cells and that these cell have a naturally occurring phenotype of diphtheria toxin resistance. We fused each of the mutants with mouse 3T3 cells and measured the resistance. We fused each of the mutants with mouse 3T3 cells and measured the resistance of the hybrid cells to diphtheria toxin. Intraspecies hybrids containing the genome of mutants Dtx(r)-1 and Dtx(r)-3 had some resistance while those formed with Dtx(r)-2 were as sensitive as hybrids derived from fusions between wild-type hamster cells and mouse 3T3 cells.