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FEBS Lett. 2003 Jan 30;535(1-3):166-70.

Sequence analysis reveals new membrane anchor of reaction centre-bound cytochromes possibly related to PufX.

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Institut für Physikalische Chemie, Albertstr. 23a, Universität Freiburg, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany.


Most of the bacterial photosynthetic reaction centres known to date contain a cytochrome subunit with four covalently bound haem groups. In the case of Blastochloris viridis, this reaction centre subunit is anchored in the membrane by a lipid molecule covalently attached to the cysteine which forms the N-terminus of the mature protein after processing by a signal peptidase. We show that posttranslational N-terminal cleavage of the cytochrome subunit does not occur in the aerobic photosynthetic bacterium Roseobacter denitrificans. From sequence analysis of the resulting elongated N-terminus it follows that a transmembrane helix is anchoring the reaction centre-bound cytochrome in the membrane. Comparative sequence analysis strongly suggests that all cytochrome subunits lacking the lipid coupling cysteine share this structural feature. Comparison of the N-terminal segment of the cytochrome subunit of Roseobacter denitrificans with the sequences of the PufX proteins from Rhodobacter sphaeroides and Rhodobacter capsulatus suggests a phylogenetic relation.

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