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Biochem Soc Symp. 1985;50:247-64.

Cell damage by viruses, toxins and complement: common features of pore-formation and its inhibition by Ca2+.


Haemolytic paramyxoviruses interact with cells in the following way: a potentially leaky viral envelope fuses with the plasma membrane, creating a hydrophilic pore of approximately 1 nm in diameter; this allows ions and low molecular weight compounds, but not proteins, to leak into and out of cells. Other viruses act similarly if the pH is reduced to 5. Leakage (measured by collapse of membrane potential, by movement of monovalent cations and by loss of phosphorylated intermediates from cells) is prevented by extracellular Ca2+. Ca2+ does not affect binding or fusion of virus to cells. It inhibits leakage as well as preventing it, and it aids in the recovery (i.e. the restoration of non-leakiness) of cells. Certain 'anti-Ca2+' drugs have an opposite effect. Experiments with the bee venom protein melittin, with the alpha-toxin of Staphylococcus aureus and with activated complement, show that the lesions produced by these agents, too, are sensitive to extracellular Ca2+ and to 'anti-Ca2+' drugs. The mechanisms of these effects are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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