Summary: The photosensitizing activity of haematoporphyrin (HP) on and was studied as a function of the phase of growth and the amount of sterols in the cell membrane. Less HP was bound to cells when the membrane had a high sterol content. Both strains in the exponential but not in the stationary phase of growth were sensitive to HP treatment (above µg ml) in the dark. Visible light irradiation of HP-loaded cells caused in all cases a decrease of cell survival, with concomitant changes in the pattern of membrane proteins that suggested protein-protein cross-linking, and the appearance of ultrastructural alterations (rounded andlysed cells); the photosensitivity was indirectly related to the sterol content of the cell membrane. On the whole, our findings suggest that the cell membrane is a major target for HP photosensitization of mycoplasma cells.


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