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Biochemistry. 1985 Apr 9;24(8):1915-20.

Secondary structure and assembly mechanism of an oligomeric channel protein.


The alpha-toxin of Staphylococcus aureus is secreted as a water-soluble, monomeric polypeptide (Mr 33 182) that can assemble into an oligomeric membrane channel. By chemical cross-linking, we have confirmed that the major form of the channel is a hexamer. The circular dichroism spectrum of this hexamer in detergent revealed that it contains a high proportion of beta-sheet that we deduce must lie within the lipid bilayer when the protein is associated with membranes. The circular dichroism spectrum of the monomeric toxin in the presence or absence of detergent was closely similar to the spectrum of the hexamer, suggesting that the secondary structure of the polypeptide is little changed on assembly. Results of experiments involving limited proteolysis of the monomer and hexamer are consistent with the idea that assembly involves the movement of two rigid domains about a hinge located near the midpoint of the polypeptide chain. The hydrophilic monomer is thereby converted to an amphipathic rod that becomes a subunit of the hexamer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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