Partial oligomerization of pyolysin induced by a disulfide-tethered mutant
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The bacterial toxin pyolysin (PLO) belongs to the family of cholesterol-dependent cytolysins (CDCs), which form large, ring-shaped oligomeric pores in cholesterol-containing membranes. Monomeric CDC molecules have a structure of four domains, with domains 2 and 3 packed against each other. After binding to target membranes containing cholesterol, toxin monomers oligomerize into pre-pore complexes. Trans-membrane pores form when the pre-pores insert into the lipid bilayer. Membrane insertion requires each subunit in the pre-pore to undergo a significant change in conformation, including the separation of domains 2 and 3. We here characterize a pyolysin mutant with an engineered disulfide bond between domains 2 and 3. The disulfide-tethered mutant binds to membranes but does not form oligomers. When mixed with wild type PLO, the two proteins form hybrid oligomers, which are reduced in size and arc-shaped rather than ring-shaped. With equimolar mixtures or the disulfide mutant in slight excess, the hybrid oligomers retain pore-forming activity, while a larger excess of the mutant suppresses pore formation. These results support a "partially cooperative" mode of protein activity, in which a limited number of functional subunits within an oligomer have to cooperate to initiate membrane insertion and pore formation.
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Lisa A. Pokrajac, Clara Baik, J. Robin Harris, Naghmeh S. Sarraf, Michael Palmer (2012). Partial oligomerization of pyolysin induced by a disulfide-tethered mutant. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/11663