Interaction of eosinophil granule major basic protein with synthetic lipid bilayers: A mechanism for toxicity

Randa I. Abu-Ghazaleh, Gerald J. Gleich, Franklyn G. Prendergast

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Eosinophil granule major basic protein (MBP) is a potent toxin for mammalian cells and helminths, but the mechaism of its toxicity is not known. Here we tested whether MBP toxicity is exerted through its effect on the lipid bilayer of its targets. Liposomes prepared from synthetic phospholipids were used as targets for MBP and their properties examined by fluorescence and circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy. MBP caused a change in the temperature transition profiles of acidic liposomes (1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphatidyl serine or an equimolar mixture of 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine and 1,2-dimyristoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphatidic acid) and induced their aggregation as shown by fluorescence resonance energy transfer experiments. The CD spectra and fluorescence characteristics of MBP itself were altered by its interaction with acidic lipids. Blue shifts in the emission maxima of the Trp, and of the dimethylaminonaphthyl moiety in acrylodan-labeled MBP, and a reduction in the effectiveness of quenching of Trp fluorescence by acrylamide were observed in the presence of acidic lipids. None of these effects were noted with zwitterionic lipids. This MBP : lipid bilayer interaction resulted in fusion and lysis of liposomes as indicated by the fluorescent indicator calcein. The results demonstrate that MBP associates with acidic lipids and that it disrupts, aggregates, fuses, and lyses liposomes prepared from such lipids. Such interaction might account for its wide range of toxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-164
Number of pages12
JournalThe Journal of Membrane Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1992


  • eosinophil major basic protein
  • fluorescence polarization
  • fluorescence resonance energy transfer
  • liposomes quenching
  • lysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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