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EMBO J. 1985 Dec 16;4(13A):3593-8.

The nature of information, required for export and sorting, present within the outer membrane protein OmpA of Escherichia coli K-12.


Information, in addition to that provided by signal sequences, for translocation across the plasma membrane is thought to be present in exported proteins of Escherichia coli. Such information must also exist for the localization of such proteins. To determine the nature of this information, overlapping inframe deletions have been constructed in the ompA gene which codes for a 325-residue major outer membrane protein. In addition, one deletion, encoding only the NH2-terminal part of the protein up to residue 160, was prepared. The location of each product was determined by immunoelectron microscopy. Proteins missing residues 4-45, 43-84, 46-227, 86-227 or 160-325 of the mature protein were all efficiently translocated across the plasma membrane. The first two proteins were found in the outer membrane, the others in the periplasmic space. It has been proposed that export and sorting signals consist of relatively small amino acid sequences near the NH2 terminus of an outer membrane protein. On the basis of sequence homologies it has also been suggested that such proteins possess a common sorting signal. The locations of the partially deleted proteins described here show that a unique export signal does not exist in the OmpA protein. The proposed common sorting signal spans residues 1-14 of OmpA. Since this region is not essential for routing the protein, the existence of a common sorting signal is doubtful. It is suggested that information both for export (if existent) and localization lies within protein conformation which for the former process should be present repeatedly in the polypeptide.

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