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Biochem J. 1990 Apr 15;267(2):303-7.

Reversible cell damage by T-cell perforins. Calcium influx and propidium iodide uptake into K562 cells in the absence of lysis.

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


The non-lethal effects of the lymphocyte-derived pore-forming toxin perforin on the human erythroleukaemia cell line K562 were investigated. By using the fluorescent Ca2+ indicator fura-2, perforin was shown to cause intracellular Ca2+ concentration to rise transiently into the micromolar range in the absence of cell death. By fluorescence-activated cell sorting it was demonstrated that K562 cells took up the membrane-impermeant nuclear stain propidium iodide (PI) when exposed to non-lethal doses of perforin. The permeability to PI was short-lived, confirming the transience of the perforin pore. Analogies with non-lethal effects and recovery processes occurring in nucleated cells exposed to the membrane-attack complex of complement are drawn.

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