Interaction of melittin with a human lymphoblastoid cell line, HMy2.
We have examined the cytolytic effects of the membrane-active peptide, melittin, on a human lymphoblastoid cell line (HMy2) in the context of the use of melittin as the toxic component of an immunotoxin. The toxicity of melittin for HMy2 cells was linear over the concentration range 0.875–3.5 μM. Increased incubation times failed to result in significant cell death at concentrations of melittin below 0.875 μM. Kinetic analysis revealed that the cytolytic activity of melittin was independent of time of exposure beyond 90 min. Flow cytometric analysis of HMy2 cells incubated with FITC-labeled melittin demonstrated that the cells could incorporate up to 2.5 3 105 FITC-melittin molecules per cell with no reduction in viability. Extrapolation of this data indicates that 106 melittin molecules per cell are required for maximum cytotoxicity to HMy2 cells. Further analysis of HMy2 cells that incorporated melittin, but that remained viable, revealed that these cells were able to reduce the number of melittin molecules per cell over time. The data indicate a potential threshold value for the number of melittin molecules that may be required to be delivered to the cell surface in the form of an immunotoxin if effective selective cell death is to be achieved.