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J Bacteriol. 2003 Feb;185(4):1478-83.

Prokaryotic utilization of the twin-arginine translocation pathway: a genomic survey.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


The twin-arginine translocation (Tat) pathway, which has been identified in plant chloroplasts and prokaryotes, allows for the secretion of folded proteins. However, the extent to which this pathway is used among the prokaryotes is not known. By using a genomic approach, a comprehensive list of putative Tat substrates for 84 diverse prokaryotes was established. Strikingly, the results indicate that the Tat pathway is utilized to highly varying extents. Furthermore, while many prokaryotes use this pathway predominantly for the secretion of redox proteins, analyses of the predicted substrates suggest that certain bacteria and archaea secrete mainly nonredox proteins via the Tat pathway. While no correlation was observed between the number of Tat machinery components encoded by an organism and the number of predicted Tat substrates, it was noted that the composition of this machinery was specific to phylogenetic taxa.

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