Oligomerization of Sticholysins from Förster Resonance Energy Transfer

Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
Sticholysins are pore-forming toxins produced by sea anemones that are members of the actinoporin family. They exert their activity by forming pores on membranes, provided they have sphingomyelin. To assemble into pores, specific recognition, binding, and oligomerization are required. While recognition and binding have been extensively studied, delving into the oligomerization process and the stoichiometry of the pores has been more difficult. Here, we present evidence that these toxins are capable of oligomerizing in solution and suggesting that the interaction of sticholysin II (StnII) with its isoform sticholysin I (StnI) is stronger than that of StnI with itself. We also show that the stoichiometry of the final, thermodynamically stable StnI pores is, at least, heptameric. Furthermore, our results indicate that this association maintains its oligomerization number when StnII is included, indicating that the stoichiometry of StnII is also of that order, and not tetrameric, as previously thought. These results are compatible with the stoichiometry observed for the crystallized pore of FraC, another very similar actinoporin produced by a different sea anemone species. Our results also indicate that the stoichiometry of actinoporin pores in equilibrium is conserved regardless of the particular composition of a given pore ensemble, which we have shown for mixed sticholysin pores.