03 May 2016
Lecture Theatre F2, Firth Court
Professor Helen Saibil, Department of Biological Sciences, Birkbeck College, London.
Membrane pore-forming proteins in the molecular arms race between host and pathogen
Abstract: Pathogens have evolved weapons to invade and damage our cells, and our immune system has evolved defences against these attacks. Among the weaponry used by both sides in this continual war are proteins that punch holes in cell membranes. Membrane perforation enables pathogens to take over host cells and resources for their own replication, and also enables host immune systems to kill invading pathogens. The membrane attack complex-perforin (MACPF)/ cholesterol dependent cytolysin (CDC) superfamily of membrane pore-forming proteins is used by a wide range of pathogens as well as by host immune systems. This talk focuses on the mechanisms by which MACPF and CDC proteins convert from their soluble, monomeric forms into large arcs and rings that insert into membranes and perforate them. Studies of pore assembly on liposomes in vitro and examples of their action in vivo will be presented.