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J Biol Chem. 1981 Apr 10;256(7):3593-7.

Leader peptidase is found in both the inner and outer membranes of Escherichia coli.


Many membrane proteins are synthesized as transient precursors with an NH2-terminal leader (or signal) peptide. During insertion of these proteins into the membrane, leader peptides are removed by leader peptidase. One such enzyme has been detected in detergent extracts of Escherichia coli membranes and extensively purified using as an assay the removal of the leader sequence of procoat, the precursor of the major coat protein of bacteriophage M13. We now report that this leader peptidase is found in equal abundance in the inner and outer membranes of E. coli. Enzyme from each membrane accurately cleaves procoat to mature M13 coat protein. The salt, pH, and Mg2+ optima and inhibitor sensitivities of enzyme from each membrane are identical. Furthermore, the activities are indistinguishable upon ion exchange chromatography and nondenaturing gel electrophoresis. Finally, a strain of E. coli with a plasmid which causes overproduction of leader peptidase has elevated levels of enzyme in both the inner and outer membranes. Leader peptidase is the only known enzyme which is found in both inner and outer membrane fractions of E. coli; this may reflect its role in membrane biogenesis.

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