Many bacteria include among their virulence factors exoproteins which exert leukocidal and cytolytic functions and have the ability to form pores in model membranes. We show that, at least in the case of the RTX hemolysin produced by Escherichia coli (HlyA), formation of pores in planar lipid membranes is parallelled by opening of strikingly similar channels in the plasma membrane of exposed macrophages. Formation of such lesions in leukocytes can give rise to a variety of effects leading altogether to a diminished immune response towards the invasive bacteria.

Abbreviations HlyA, Escherichia coli hemolysin A; RTX, Repeat ToXins; HMDM, human monocyte-derived macrophages; PLM, planar lipid membranes

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