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Pore-forming proteins

David M. Ojcius, Chau-Ching Liu, John D. Young
From: Science & Medicine: Volume 5 Number 1: Page 44 (February 1998)

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Abstract: Pore-forming proteins and peptides are potent natural antibiotics found throughout nature. They lyse cells by intercalating into membranes, making the target cells leaky. The virulence of many pathogenic bacteria and parasites depends on their production of pore formers. Conversely, in mammals, pore formers are defensive substances. Perforin, produced by leukocytes, is structurally and functionally similar to several complement components. Defensins on epithelial surfaces ward off infections. Chemical modification of these natural antibiotics may provide an important therapeutic tool in combating infections.

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