The mechanism of pore formation by bacterial toxins

Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2006 Apr;16(2):230-6. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2006 Mar 24.


A remarkable group of proteins challenge the notions that protein sequence determines a unique three-dimensional structure, and that membrane and soluble proteins are very distinct. The pore-forming toxins typically transform from soluble, monomeric proteins to oligomers that form transmembrane channels. Recent structural studies provide ideas about how these changes take place. The recently solved structures of the beta-pore-forming toxins LukS, epsilon-toxin and intermedilysin confirm that the pore-forming regions are initially folded up on the surfaces of the soluble precursors. To create the transmembrane pores, these regions must extend and refold into membrane-inserted beta-barrels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Toxins / chemistry
  • Bacterial Toxins / metabolism*
  • Cytotoxins / chemistry
  • Cytotoxins / physiology*
  • Lipid Bilayers / chemistry
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Folding


  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Cytotoxins
  • Lipid Bilayers