Molecular biology of the pore-forming cytolysins from Staphylococcus aureus, alpha- and gamma-hemolysins and leukocidin

Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 1997 Apr;61(4):565-72. doi: 10.1271/bbb.61.565.


Staphylococcus aureus is an important opportunistic pathogen. It produces a variety of extracellular proteins, which may play important roles in infections by this bacterium. Staphylococcal alpha-toxin is a pore-forming 33-kDa polypeptide. In the first part of this article, we will refer to the roles of cell membranes in the pore formation by alpha-toxin as well as the molecular dissection of alpha-toxin for understanding its pore-forming nature. Staphylococcal gamma-hemolysin and leukocidin are bi-component cytolysins, which have different cell specificities towards erythrocytes and leukocytes, respectively. We have found that these bi-component cytolysins share a common component. In the second part of this article, we will refer to the current status of knowledge of molecular cloning of the genes coding for gamma-hemolysin and leukocidin, molecular domains of the toxins which decide the cell specificities, and mode of action of these bi-component toxins.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Cytotoxins / genetics*
  • Hemolysin Proteins / genetics*
  • Leukocidins / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Staphylococcus aureus / genetics*


  • Cytotoxins
  • Hemolysin Proteins
  • Leukocidins