A model has been presented for retrograde transport of certain toxins and viruses from the cell surface to the ER that suggests an obligatory interaction with a glycolipid receptor at the cell surface. Here we review studies on the ER trafficking cholera toxin, Shiga and Shiga-like toxins, Pseudomonas exotoxin A and ricin, and compare the retrograde routes followed by these protein toxins to those of the ER trafficking SV40 and polyoma viruses. We conclude that there is in fact no obligatory requirement for a glycolipid receptor, nor even with a protein receptor in a lipid-rich environment. Emerging data suggests instead that there is no common pathway utilised for retrograde transport by all of these pathogens, the choice of route being determined by the particular receptor utilised.\u
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