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Chem Rev. 2019 Jul 10;119(13):7721-7736. doi: 10.1021/acs.chemrev.9b00090. Epub 2019 Jun 17.

Cholesterol-Dependent Cytolysins: Membrane and Protein Structural Requirements for Pore Formation.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Bio21 Institute , University of Melbourne , Parkville , Victoria 3010 , Australia.
School of Chemistry, Bio21 Institute , University of Melbourne , Melbourne , Victoria 3010 , Australia.
St. Vincent's Institute of Medical Research , Fitzroy , Victoria 3065 , Australia.


The cholesterol-dependent cytolysins (CDCs) are a family of bacterial protein toxins specifically targeting eukaryotic cells through the absolute requirement for high concentrations of cholesterol in the target cells' lipid membrane. The soluble monomeric protein secreted by the bacteria oligomerizes on the surface of the target cell, and the complex formed then undergoes a concerted structural transition that results in the creation of a multimeric protein pore. Recognition of the cholesterol-rich membrane by CDCs is a surprisingly subtle process that takes place at the interface between the membrane and surrounding aqueous environment. The structure and composition of the lipid membrane modulates the efficiency with which the protein can identify cholesterol and alters the concentration of sterol required for membrane binding. Some of the details of the interplay between protein and membrane remain to be resolved, and in this review we present a current perspective on CDC pore formation, with particular focus on the role of the lipid bilayer and cholesterol accessibility.

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