Alpha-hemolysin from Staphylococcus aureus is secreted as a water-soluble monomer and assembles on membranes to oligomerize into a homo-heptameric, water-filled pore. These pores lead to lysis and cell death. Although the structure of the heptameric pore is solved by means of X-ray crystallography, structures of intermediate states-from the soluble monomer to all potential "pre-pore" structures-are yet unknown. Here, we propose a model of the monomeric alpha-hemolysin in solution based on molecular modeling, verified by small angle X-ray scattering data. This structure reveals details of the monomeric conformation of the alpha-hemolysin, for example inherent flexibility, along with definite differences in comparison to the structures used as templates.
(c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.