Pore-forming proteins are powerful "tools" for adaptation of living organisms to environmental conditions. A wide range of these proteins isolated from various sources, from viruses to mammals, has been used for the analysis of their role in the processes of intra- and inter-species competition, defense, attack, and signaling. Here we review a large number of pore-forming proteins from the perspective of their functions, structures, and mechanisms of membrane penetration. Various mechanisms of cell damage, executed by these proteins in the course of formation of a pore and after its passing to conducting state, have been considered: endo- and exocytosis, lysis, necrosis, apoptosis, etc. The role of pore-forming proteins in evolution is discussed. The relevance of practical application of pore formers has been shown, including application in nanotechnological constructions.
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