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The delta-toxin of Staphylococcus aureus has been investigated in terms of its potential to form ion channels in planar lipid bilayers formed at the tip of patch electrodes. Channel formation has been shown to occur for delta-toxin concentrations in the range 0.1 to 2.0 microM. In 0.5 M KCl, two major classes of channels were seen--'small' with conductances of 70-100 pS, and 'large' with a conductance of approx. 450 pS. Current-voltage relationships for lipid bilayers containing several delta-toxin channels revealed both voltage-dependent and independent components to channel gating. Reversal potential measurements showed the channels to be cation selective. In the presence of 3.0 M KCl, the channel gating kinetics were complex, with multiple open and closed states. The results are interpreted in terms of a model for the channel consisting of a hexameric cluster of alpha-helical delta-toxin molecules.


Journal article


Biochim Biophys Acta

Publication Date





280 - 294


Bacterial Toxins, Electric Conductivity, Electrodes, Ion Channels, Kinetics, Lipid Bilayers, Mathematics