Perforin rapidly induces plasma membrane phospholipid flip-flop.
Metkar SS., Wang B., Catalan E., Anderluh G., Gilbert RJC., Pardo J., Froelich CJ.
The cytotoxic cell granule secretory pathway is essential for host defense. This pathway is fundamentally a form of intracellular protein delivery where granule proteases (granzymes) from cytotoxic lymphocytes are thought to diffuse through barrel stave pores generated in the plasma membrane of the target cell by the pore forming protein perforin (PFN) and mediate apoptotic as well as additional biological effects. While recent electron microscopy and structural analyses indicate that recombinant PFN oligomerizes to form pores containing 20 monomers (20 nm) when applied to liposomal membranes, these pores are not observed by propidium iodide uptake in target cells. Instead, concentrations of human PFN that encourage granzyme-mediated apoptosis are associated with pore structures that unexpectedly favor phosphatidylserine flip-flop measured by Annexin-V and Lactadherin. Efforts that reduce PFN mediated Ca influx in targets did not reduce Annexin-V reactivity. Antigen specific mouse CD8 cells initiate a similar rapid flip-flop in target cells. A lipid that augments plasma membrane curvature as well as cholesterol depletion in target cells enhance flip-flop. Annexin-V staining highly correlated with apoptosis after Granzyme B (GzmB) treatment. We propose the structures that PFN oligomers form in the membrane bilayer may include arcs previously observed by electron microscopy and that these unusual structures represent an incomplete mixture of plasma membrane lipid and PFN oligomers that may act as a flexible gateway for GzmB to translocate across the bilayer to the cytosolic leaflet of target cells.