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J Bacteriol. 1986 Jul;167(1):160-7.

Effects of signal sequence mutations on the kinetics of alkaline phosphatase export to the periplasm in Escherichia coli.


We isolated a collection of mutants defective in the export of alkaline phosphatase to the periplasm. Two classes of mutants were obtained: one class with lesions unlinked to the phoA gene and a second class harboring linked mutations. Among the former class, one mutant is cold sensitive for growth and may be defective in a component of the Escherichia coli secretory apparatus. Included in the latter class are 47 mutants which are characterized in detail in this report. To facilitate DNA sequence analysis of these mutants, we devised a convenient method that relies on homologous recombination in vivo to transfer phoA mutations from the bacterial chromosome directly onto the genome of a single-stranded M13 phage vector. DNA sequence analysis revealed that our collection of mutants comprises six unique mutations, all of which reside in the phoA signal sequence coding region and lend further support to the notion that the length of the hydrophobic core of the signal sequence is crucial for its function in protein export. Kinetic studies showed that in these mutants, the small fraction of alkaline phosphatase which succeeds in reaching a periplasmic location, despite a defective signal sequence, is translocated across the membrane in a slow, posttranslational fashion.

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