Equinatoxin II (EqtII), a sea anemone cytolysin, is known to oligomerize to form pores that spontaneously insert into membranes. Crystallographic and cryo-EM studies of structurally similar cytolysins offer contradictory evidence for pore stoichiometry. Here we used single-molecule photobleaching of fluorescently labeled EqtII to determine the stoichiometry of EqtII oligomers in supported lipid bilayers. A frequency analysis of photobleaching steps revealed a log-normal distribution of stoichiometries with a mean of 3.4±2.3 standard deviations. Comparison of our experimental data with simulations of fixed stoichiometries supports our observation of a heterogeneous distribution of EqtII oligomerization. These data are consistent with a model of EqtII stoichiometry where pores are on average tetrameric, but with large variation in the number of subunits in individual pores.
Keywords: equinatoxin; fluorescence; membrane proteins; photobleaching; pore-forming toxins; single molecule fluorescence.
© 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.