Posted on Nov 12, 2010, 6 a.m.
Australian researchers identify a role for perforin in killing rogue cells in the human body, potentially leading to a key breakthrough for cancer therapy.
Perforin is a cellular protein for which Monash University (Australia) researchers have now identified a role in killing rogue cells in the human body. Key to a properly functioning immune system, performin breaks into cells that have been overtaken by viruses or turned into cancer cells and allows toxic enzymes in, to destroy the cell from within. The ten-year long study seeking to unravel the molecular structure and function of perforin, researchers revealed specifically how the protein assembles to punch holes in cell membranes. The team is hopeful that ways to fine-tune perforin might enable the protein to be engaged to fight cancer.
Ruby H. P. Law, Natalya Lukoyanova, Ilia Voskoboinik, Tom T. Caradoc-Davies, Katherine Baran, Michelle A. Dunstone, Michael E. D’Angelo, Elena V. Orlova, Fasseli Coulibaly, Sandra Verschoor, et al. “The structural basis for membrane binding and pore formation by lymphocyte perforin.” Nature, 31 October 2010; doi:10.1038/nature09518.