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J Biol Chem. 1999 Dec 31;274(53):37750-4.

Signal peptides having standard and nonstandard cleavage sites can be processed by Imp1p of the mitochondrial inner membrane protease.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, School of Medicine, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee 37232-2363, USA.


We have performed a site-directed mutagenesis study showing that residues comprising the type I signal peptidase signature in the two catalytic subunits of the yeast inner membrane protease, Imp1p and Imp2p, are functionally important, consistent with the idea that these subunits contain a serine/lysine catalytic dyad. Previous studies have shown that Imp1p cleaves signal peptides having asparagine at the -1 position, which deviates from the typical signal peptide possessing a small uncharged amino acid at this position. To determine whether asparagine is responsible for the nonoverlapping substrate specificities exhibited by the inner membrane protease subunits, we have substituted asparagine with 19 amino acids in the Imp1p substrate i-cytochrome (cyt) b(2). The resulting signal peptides containing alanine, serine, cysteine, leucine, and methionine can be cleaved efficiently by Imp1p. The remaining mutant signal peptides are cleaved inefficiently or not at all. Surprisingly, none of the amino acid changes results in the recognition of i-cyt b(2) by Imp2p, whose natural substrate, i-cyt c(1), has alanine at the -1 position. The data demonstrate that (i) although the -1 residue is important in substrates recognized by Imp1p, signal peptides having standard and nonstandard cleavage sites can be processed by Imp1p, and (ii) a -1 asparagine does not govern the substrate specificity of the inner membrane protease subunits.

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