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EMBO J. 1991 Oct;10(10):2773-82.

Decoding signals for membrane protein assembly using alkaline phosphatase fusions.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115.


We have used genetic methods to investigate the role of the different domains of a bacterial cytoplasmic membrane protein, MalF, in determining its topology. This was done by analyzing the effects of MalF topology of deleting various domains of the protein using MalF-alkaline phosphatase fusion proteins. Our results show that the cytoplasmic domains of the protein are the pre-eminent topogenic signals. These domains contain information that determines their cytoplasmic location and, thus, the orientation of the membrane spanning segments surrounding them. Periplasmic domains do not appear to have equivalent information specifying their location and membrane spanning segments do not contain information defining their orientation in the membrane. The strength of cytoplasmic domains as topogenic signals varies, correlated with the density of positively charged amino acids within them.

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