Two structural transitions in membrane pore formation by pneumolysin, the pore-forming toxin of Streptococcus pneumoniae.
Gilbert RJ., Jiménez JL., Chen S., Tickle IJ., Rossjohn J., Parker M., Andrew PW., Saibil HR.
The human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae produces soluble pneumolysin monomers that bind host cell membranes to form ring-shaped, oligomeric pores. We have determined three-dimensional structures of a helical oligomer of pneumolysin and of a membrane-bound ring form by cryo-electron microscopy. Fitting the four domains from the crystal structure of the closely related perfringolysin reveals major domain rotations during pore assembly. Oligomerization results in the expulsion of domain 3 from its original position in the monomer. However, domain 3 reassociates with the other domains in the membrane pore form. The base of domain 4 contacts the bilayer, possibly along with an extension of domain 3. These results reveal a two-stage mechanism for pore formation by the cholesterol-binding toxins.