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Eur J Biochem. 1988 Jul 1;174(4):671-8.

Topogenic signals in integral membrane proteins.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge, Sweden.


Integral membrane proteins are characterized by long apolar segments that cross the lipid bilayer. Polar domains flanking these apolar segments have a more balanced amino acid composition, typical for soluble proteins. We show that the apolar segments from three different kinds of membrane-assembly signals do not differ significantly in amino acid content, but that the inside/outside location of the polar domains correlates strongly with their content of arginyl and lysyl residues, not only for bacterial inner-membrane proteins, but also for eukaryotic.proteins from the endoplasmic reticulum, the plasma membrane, the inner mitochondrial membrane, and the chloroplast thylakoid membrane. A positive-inside rule thus seems to apply universally to all integral membrane proteins, with apolar regions targeting for membrane integration and charged residues providing the topological information.

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