Sporidesmin, a mycotoxin from Pithomyces chartarum is a hydrophobic molecule. It can therefore be easily incorporated in the cell membrane, where it is likely to cause changes in the bilayer organization and the properties of membrane proteins. In order to understand the redox behaviour of sporidesmin in a hydrophobic environment, we have investigated the effects of oxidized and reduced sporidesmin on the phase transition properties of bilayers and on the susceptibility of bilayers to pancreatic phospholipase A2 (PLA2). The changes induced by sporidesmin in the thermotropic phase transition profiles of dimyristoyl-sn-3-phosphatidyl choline (DMPC) bilayers were similar to those caused by solutes known to localize in the glycerol-backbone region of the lipid bilayer, suggesting a similar localization for oxidized and reduced sporidesmin. Neither form of toxin disrupt the bilayer or membrane organization even at relatively high mole fractions. At concentrations <10 mole% both forms partitioned equally well in the gel and liquid-crystalline phases, whereas at higher concentrations (≈30 mole%) reduced sporidesmin is preferentially localized in the liquid-crystalline phase. These effects of sporidesmin on the phase properties of DMPC vesicles were also reported by the fluorescence behavior of 10-pyrenedecanoic acid (PDA). The effects of oxidized and reduced sporidesmins on PLA2 kinetics are consistent with their ability to perturb bilayer organisation.

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