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    Pore-forming toxins (PFTs) are widely distributed in both Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria. PFTs can act as virulence factors that bacteria utilise in dissemination and host colonisation or, alternatively, they can be employed to compete with rival microbes in polymicrobial niches. PFTs transition from a soluble form to become membrane-embedded by undergoing large conformational changes. Once inserted, they perforate the membrane, causing uncontrolled efflux of ions and/or nutrients and dissipating the protonmotive force (PMF). In some instances, target cells intoxicated by PFTs display additional effects as part of the cellular response to pore formation. Significant progress has been made in the mechanistic description of pore formation for the different PFTs families, but in several cases a complete understanding of pore structure remains lacking. PFTs have evolved recognition mechanisms to bind specific receptors that define their host tropism, although this can be remarkably diverse even within the same family. Here we summarise the salient features of PFTs and highlight where additional research is necessary to fully understand the mechanism of pore formation by members of this diverse group of protein toxins.


    Fatima R Ulhuq, Giuseppina Mariano. Bacterial pore-forming toxins. Microbiology (Reading, England). 2022 Mar;168(3)

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    PMID: 35333704

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