Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Irvine

UC Irvine Previously Published Works bannerUC Irvine

Dropping Out and Other Fates of Transmembrane Segments Inserted by the SecA ATPase


Type II single-span membrane proteins, such as CadC or RodZ, lacking a signal sequence and having a far-downstream hydrophobic segment, require the SecA secretion motor for insertion into the inner membrane of Escherichia coli. Using two chimeric single-span proteins containing a designed hydrophobic segment H, we have determined the requirements for SecA-mediated secretion, the molecular distinction between TM domains and signal peptides, and the propensity for hydrophobic H-segments to remain embedded within the bilayer after targeting. By means of engineered H-segments and a strategically placed SPase I cleavage site, we determined how targeting and stability of the chimeric proteins are affected by the length and hydrophobicity of the H-segment. Very hydrophobic segments (e.g., 16 Leu) are stably incorporated into the inner membrane, resulting in a C-terminal anchored membrane protein, while a 24L construct was not targeted to the membrane by SecA and remained in the cytoplasm. However, a construct carrying preMalE at the N-terminus led to SecA targeting to SecYEG via the native signal sequence and stable insertion of the downstream 24L H-segment. We show that the RseP intramembrane protease degrades weakly stable H-segments and is a useful tool for investigating the borderline between stable and unstable TM segments. Using RseP- cells, we find that moderately hydrophobic sequences (e.g., 5Leu + 11Ala) are targeted to SecYEG by SecA and inserted, but subsequently drop out of the membrane into the cytoplasm. Therefore, the free energy of transfer from translocon to bilayer is different from the transfer free energy from membrane to water.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View