A group of bacterial exported proteins are synthesized with N-terminal signal peptides containing a SRRxFLK ‘twin-arginine’ amino acid motif. Proteins bearing twin-arginine signal peptides are targeted post-translationally to the twin-arginine translocation (Tat) system which transports folded substrates across the inner membrane. In Escherichia coli, most integral inner membrane proteins are assembled by a co-translational process directed by SRP/FtsY, the SecYEG translocase, and YidC. In this work we define a novel class of integral membrane proteins assembled by a Tat-dependent mechanism. We show that at least five E. coli Tat substrate proteins contain hydrophobic C-terminal transmembrane helices (or ‘C-tails’). Fusions between the identified transmembrane C-tails and the exclusively Tat-dependent reporter proteins TorA and SufI render the resultant chimeras membrane-bound. Export-linked signal peptide processing and membrane integration of the chimeras is shown to be both Tat-dependent and YidC-independent. It is proposed that the mechanism of membrane integration of proteins by the Tat system is fundamentally distinct from that employed for other bacterial inner membrane proteins.
- Twin arginine signal peptide
- Tat pathway
- Protein transport
- Bacterial transport
Hatzixanthis, K., Palmer, T., & Sargent, F. (2003). A subset of bacterial inner membrane proteins integrated by the twin-arginine translocase. Molecular Microbiology, 49(5), 1377-1390. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2958.2003.03642.x