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Biochem J. 1991 Nov 15;280 ( Pt 1):199-204.

Killing of cells by perforin. Resistance to killing is not due to diminished binding of perforin to the cell membrane.

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Department of Medical Biochemistry, University of Wales College of Medicine, Cardiff, U.K.


Different cell types vary widely in their susceptibility to killing by the pore-forming cytolytic molecule perforin. In particular, the cells responsible for synthesis of perforin, i.e. cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) and natural killer (NK) cells, are very resistant to cytolysis by this molecule. It has previously been suggested that resistance is due, at least in part, to diminished binding of perforin to these cells. The purpose of the present study was to compare binding of perforin to sensitive and resistant cell types. To this end, perforin was biosynthetically labelled prior to purification. The purified labelled protein was then utilized to obtain a direct measure of the amount of perforin bound to cells during attack. Resistant cells (CTL, neutrophils) bound at least as much perforin as did sensitive cells (K562, HL60 etc.), indicating that resistance to perforin involves mechanisms operating after binding of the lytic molecule.

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