Cytotoxic lymphocytes play a key role in immune homeostasis through elimination of virally-infected and transformed target cells. They do this by employing the potent pore-forming protein, perforin, a molecule that permits cytotoxic proteases, such as granzyme B, to enter the target cell cytoplasm. The synergistic activities of perforin and granzymes bring about the destruction of target cells in a process that is now more clearly understood as a result of structural and cellular biology. These data are helping the development of new classes of immunosuppressive molecules for use in treating immune driven disease and in enhancing the success of transplant therapies. This review focuses on structural and biological aspects of perforin function.
- Pore-forming protein