SUMMARY: The ability of certain lipids to induce polymerization of staphylococcal α-toxin has been investigated using polyacrylamide disc gel electrophoresis in the presence of sodium dodecyl sulphate to monitor conversion of the monomeric form of α-toxin (molecular weight = 36 000) to the α aggregate. The widely differing lipids varied in the order diglyceride > lecithin > cholesterol > lysolecithin in polymer-inducing activity. No individual component was as efficient as a mixed dispersion of lecithin, cholesterol and dicetyl phosphate (molar ratio 70:10:20) in inducing polymerization. In general our observations indicate that there is no specific lipid inducer and that the outcome of the interaction between staphylococcal α-toxin and biological membranes probably depends on the location of lipids in the membrane and their distribution in relation to one another. Also the results with diglyceride confirm our earlier suggestion that α-toxin can react hydrophobically with lipids.


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