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J Mol Biol. 2009 Mar 13;386(5):1222-8.

Analysis of transmembrane helix integration in the endoplasmic reticulum in S. cerevisiae.

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  • 1Center for Biomembrane Research, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden.


What sequence features in integral membrane proteins determine which parts of the polypeptide chain will form transmembrane alpha-helices and which parts will be located outside the lipid bilayer? Previous studies on the integration of model transmembrane segments into the mammalian endoplasmic reticulum (ER) have provided a rather detailed quantitative picture of the relation between amino acid sequence and membrane-integration propensity for proteins targeted to the Sec61 translocon. We have now carried out a comparative study of the integration of N out-C in-orientated 19-residue-long polypeptide segments into the ER of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We find that the 'threshold hydrophobicity' required for insertion into the ER membrane is very similar in S. cerevisiae and in mammalian cells. Further, when comparing the contributions to the apparent free energy of membrane insertion of the 20 natural amino acids between the S. cerevisiae and the mammalian ER, we find that the two scales are strongly correlated but that the absolute difference between the most hydrophobic and most hydrophilic residues is approximately 2-fold smaller in S. cerevisiae.

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