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Jiirg Tschopp, Institute of Biochemistry, University of Lausanne, Epalinges, Switzerland

The perforin model of lymphocyte-mediated cytoly-sis has its origin in the electron microscopic examination of target cells lysed by cytotoxic lymphocytes. In 1980, Dourmashkin detected circular lesions (designated polyperforins) of up to 16 nm inner diameter resembling the complement pores (Figure 1), which suggested a functional and mechanistic relationship between complement- and lymphocyte-mediated cytolysis. Of the two pathways implicated in target cell damage by cytotoxic T lymphocytes, perforin-dependent lysis seems to dominate in antiviral immunity, whereas the Fas pathway may regulate immune responses.

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