Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Letter
  • Published:

Structure and function of human perforin


Perforin (P1) is a cytolytic protein with similarity to complement component C9. P1 has been described as a unique component of murine cytolytic T-cell and rat natural killer cell granules1,2. Previous studies3,4 indicated that human granules and P1 differed from murine granules and P1 in that they appeared to be cytolytically less active and lacked the haemolytic activity characteristic of P1. It has been suggested that P1, like C9, is under the control of the homologous restriction factor5. Here we determine the primary structure of human P1, re-examine its functional properties, and address the question of homologous restriction.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Podack, E. R. & Konigsberg, P. J. J. exp. Med. 160, 695–710 (1984).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Henkart, P. A., Millard, P. J., Reynolds, C. W. & Henkart, M. P. J. exp. Med. 160, 75–93 (1984).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. Lowrey, D. M., Hameed, A., Lichtenheld, M. & Podack, E. R. Cancer. Res. 48, 4681–4688 (1988).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Zalman, L. S., Brothers, M. A., Chiu, F. J. & Müller-Eberhard, H. J. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 83, 5262–5266 (1986).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Martin, D. E., Zalman, L. S. & Müller-Eberhard, H. J. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 85, 213–217 (1988).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Stanley, K. K. & Hertz, J. EMBO J. 6, 1951–1957 (1987).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Stanley, K. K. in Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology (ed. Podack, E. R.), (Springer, Heidelberg, in the press).

  8. Martin, D. E., Zalman, L. S., Jung, G. & Müller-Eberhard, H. J. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 84, 2946–2950 (1987).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Podack, E. R., Young, J. D. & Cohn, Z. A. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 82, 8629–8633 (1985).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  10. Hänsch, G. M., Hammer, C. H., Vanguri, P. & Shin, M. L. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 78, 5118–5121 (1981).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  11. Lachmann, P. J. Nature 305, 473 (1983).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Tschopp, J., Masson, D. & Stanley, K. K. Nature 322, 831–834 (1986).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Podack, E. R. J. biol. Chem. 259, 8641–8647 (1984).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Dennert, G., Anderson, C. G. & Prochazka, G. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 84, 5004–5008 (1987).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  15. Ostergard, H. L., Kane, K. P., Mescher, M. F. & Clark, W. R. Nature 330, 71–72 (1987).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  16. Trenn, G., Takayama, H. & Sitkovsky, M. V. Nature 330, 72–74 (1987).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  17. von Heijne, G. Eur. J. Biochem. 133, 17–21 (1983).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  18. DiScipio, R. G. et al. Proc. natn. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 81, 7298–7302 (1984).

    Article  ADS  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. Haefliger, J. A. et al. Biochemistry 26, 3551–3556 (1987).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  20. Rao, A. G. et al. Biochemistry 26, 3556–3564 (1987).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  21. Howard, O. M. Z., Rao, A. G. & Sodetz, J. M. Biochemistry 26, 3565–3573 (1987).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. DiScipio, R. G., Chakravati, D. N., Müller-Eberhard, H. J. & Fey, G. H. J. biol. Chem. 263, 549–555 (1988).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Feinberg, A. P. & Vogelstein, B. Analyl. Biochem. 132, 6–13 (1983).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  24. Podack, E. R. et al. Immunol. Rev. 103, 203–211 (1988).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  25. Lowrey, D. M. et al. Annls Insl. Pasteur Immun. 138, 296–300 (1987).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  26. Gubler, V. & Hoffman, B. J. Gene 25, 263–269 (1983).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. Bankier, A. T. & Barrel, B. J. in Techniques in Life Sciences, Nucleic Acid Biochemistry 508, 1–35 (1983).

    Google Scholar 

  28. Chomczynski, P. & Sacchi, N. Analyt. Biochem. 162, 156–159 (1987).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. Maniatis, T., Fritsch, E. F. & Sambrook, J. Molecular Cloning 202–203 (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor, 1982).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Lichtenheld, M., Olsen, K., Lu, P. et al. Structure and function of human perforin. Nature 335, 448–451 (1988).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing