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Journal Article

Structure and assembly of a bacterial gasdermin pore


Schaefer,  Stefan L.       
Department of Theoretical Biophysics, Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, Max Planck Society;


Hummer,  Gerhard       
Department of Theoretical Biophysics, Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, Max Planck Society;
Institute of Biophysics, Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany;

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Johnson, A. G., Mayer, M. L., Schaefer, S. L., McNamara-Bordewick, N. K., Hummer, G., & Kranzusch, P. J. (2024). Structure and assembly of a bacterial gasdermin pore. Nature. doi:10.1038/s41586-024-07216-3.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000F-1455-B
In response to pathogen infection, gasdermin (GSDM) proteins form membrane pores that induce a host cell death process called pyroptosis1-3. Studies of human and mouse GSDM pores have revealed the functions and architectures of assemblies comprising 24 to 33 protomers4-9, but the mechanism and evolutionary origin of membrane targeting and GSDM pore formation remain unknown. Here we determine a structure of a bacterial GSDM (bGSDM) pore and define a conserved mechanism of pore assembly. Engineering a panel of bGSDMs for site-specific proteolytic activation, we demonstrate that diverse bGSDMs form distinct pore sizes that range from smaller mammalian-like assemblies to exceptionally large pores containing more than 50 protomers. We determine a cryo-electron microscopy structure of a Vitiosangium bGSDM in an active 'slinky'-like oligomeric conformation and analyse bGSDM pores in a native lipid environment to create an atomic-level model of a full 52-mer bGSDM pore. Combining our structural analysis with molecular dynamics simulations and cellular assays, our results support a stepwise model of GSDM pore assembly and suggest that a covalently bound palmitoyl can leave a hydrophobic sheath and insert into the membrane before formation of the membrane-spanning β-strand regions. These results reveal the diversity of GSDM pores found in nature and explain the function of an ancient post-translational modification in enabling programmed host cell death.