- Direct imaging of the interaction of the apoptotic protein, Bax, with membrane bilayers shows the presence of toroidal-shaped pores using atomic force microscopy. These pores are sufficiently large to allow passage of proteins from the intermitochondrial space. Both the perturbation of the membrane and the amount of protein bound to the bilayer are increased in the presence of calcium. The results from the imaging are consistent with leakage studies from liposomes of the same composition. The work shows that Bax by itself can form pores in membrane bilayers.