Conformations of signal peptides induced by lipids suggest initial steps in protein export

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  11 Jul 1986:
Vol. 233, Issue 4760, pp. 206-208
DOI: 10.1126/science.2941862


Despite the requirement for a functional signal sequence in protein export, little is known of the conformational properties and membrane interactions of these highly hydrophobic amino terminal extensions on nearly all exported proteins. The Escherichia coli lambda phage receptor signal sequence was studied in phospholipid monolayers by circular dichroism and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy; the signal peptide was shown to prefer an alpha-helical conformation when inserted into the lipid phase. However, interaction with the lipid surface without insertion induced the signal sequence, which is unstructured in bulk aqueous solution, to adopt a beta structure. These observations are combined in a model for the initial steps in signal sequence-membrane interaction in vivo.

Stay Connected to Science

Editor's Blog