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Mode of action of yeast killer toxins: channel formation in lipid bilayer membranes

Naturevolume 302pages709711 (1983) | Download Citation

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Abstract

The toxic action of yeast killer proteins seems to involve selective functional damage to the plasma membrane of the sensitive cell. Physiological effects include leakage of K+ (refs 1, 2), inhibition of active transport of amino acids1,3 and acidification of the cell interior1,4. These effects are strikingly similar to the effects of certain bacterial colicins which have been demonstrated previously to form channels in membranes5. Proposed mechanisms of action have usually postulated a limited permeability change induced by the toxin in the plasma membrane1–4,6,7. We report here that a killer toxin from the yeast Pichia kluyveri forms ion-permeable channels in phospholipid bilayer membranes, and we propose that the in vitro electrophysiological properties of these channels account for the morbid effects observed in intoxicated cells. A preliminary account of this work has appeared elsewhere8.

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References

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Author notes

    • Bruce L. Kagan

    Present address: Department of Psychiatry, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, 760 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, California, 90024, USA

Affiliations

  1. Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1300 Morris Park Avenue, New York, New York, 10461, USA

    • Bruce L. Kagan

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https://doi.org/10.1038/302709a0

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