Yeast viral killer toxins: lethality and self-protection

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2006 Mar;4(3):212-21. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro1347.


Since the discovery of toxin-secreting killer yeasts more than 40 years ago, research into this phenomenon has provided insights into eukaryotic cell biology and virus-host-cell interactions. This review focuses on the most recent advances in our understanding of the basic biology of virus-carrying killer yeasts, in particular the toxin-encoding killer viruses, and the intracellular processing, maturation and toxicity of the viral protein toxins. The strategy of using eukaryotic viral toxins to effectively penetrate and eventually kill a eukaryotic target cell will be discussed, and the cellular mechanisms of self-defence and protective immunity will also be addressed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Biological Transport
  • Cytosol / immunology
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Ion Channels
  • Killer Factors, Yeast
  • Mycotoxins / immunology
  • Mycotoxins / metabolism*
  • RNA Viruses / physiology
  • RNA, Double-Stranded
  • RNA, Viral
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / virology
  • Virus Replication
  • Yeasts / metabolism*
  • Yeasts / virology*


  • Fungal Proteins
  • Ion Channels
  • K1 killer toxin
  • Killer Factors, Yeast
  • Mycotoxins
  • RNA, Double-Stranded
  • RNA, Viral