Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Perforin-2 (PFN2, MPEG1) is a pore-forming protein that acts as a first line of defense in the mammalian immune system, rapidly killing engulfed microbes within the phagolysosome in macrophages. PFN2 self-assembles into hexadecameric pre-pore rings that transition upon acidification into pores damaging target cell membranes. Here, using high-speed atomic force microscopy (HS-AFM) imaging and line-scanning and molecular dynamics simulation, we elucidate PFN2 pre-pore to pore transition pathways and dynamics. Upon acidification, the pre-pore rings (pre-pore-I) display frequent, 1.8 s-1, ring-opening dynamics that eventually, 0.2 s-1, initiate transition into an intermediate, short-lived, ~75 ms, pre-pore-II state, inducing a clockwise pre-pore-I to pre-pore-II propagation. Concomitantly, the first pre-pore-II subunit, undergoes a major conformational change to the pore state that propagates also clockwise at a rate ~15 s-1. Thus, the pre-pore to pore transition is a clockwise hand-over-hand mechanism that is accomplished within ~1.3 s. Our findings suggest a clockwise mechanism of membrane insertion that with variations may be general for the MACPF/CDC superfamily.

Original publication




Journal article


Nat Commun

Publication Date





Animals, Cell Membrane, Macrophages, Mammals, Microscopy, Atomic Force, Molecular Dynamics Simulation, Perforin, Pore Forming Cytotoxic Proteins