Perforin is one of the major cytolytic proteins of cytolytic granules. One of the main pathways of lymphocyte mediated cytolysis entails the secretion onto target membranes of cytolytic granules contained in cytolytic effector lymphocytes of T-cell or NK-cell type. Perforin is a cytolytic mediator and is stored in and released by cytoplasmic granules. Perforin (PRF) is involved in the killing mediated by cytotoxic lymphocytes which represents an important mechanism in the immune defense against tumors and virus infections. Human PRF is a 555 amino acid protein with a 21 amino acid signal peptide. It has a molecular weight of 70 to 75 kD. PRF is a pore forming protein with a mechanism of transmembrane channel formation similar to C9 and homology between perforin and C9 has been demonstrated at their respective functionally conserved regions. Studies show that perforin is expressed only in killer cell lines and not in helper T lymphocytes or other tumor cells tested.
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