Spanish or Spanish-speaking scientists represent a remarkably populated group within the scientific community studying pore-forming proteins. Some of these scientists, ourselves included, focus on the study of actinoporins, a fascinating group of metamorphic pore-forming proteins produced within the venom of several sea anemones. These toxic proteins can spontaneously transit from a water-soluble fold to an integral membrane ensemble because they specifically recognize sphingomyelin in the membrane. Once they bind to the bilayer, they subsequently oligomerize into a pore that triggers cell-death by osmotic shock. In addition to sphingomyelin, some actinoporins are especially sensible to some other membrane components such as cholesterol. Our group from Universidad Complutense of Madrid has focused greatly on the role played by sterols in this water–membrane transition, a question which still remains only partially solved and constitutes the main core of the article below.
- pore-forming proteins