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FEBS Lett. 1998 Sep 4;434(3):425-30.

Targeting of thylakoid proteins by the delta pH-driven twin-arginine translocation pathway requires a specific signal in the hydrophobic domain in conjunction with the twin-arginine motif.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK.


Superficially similar cleavable targeting signals specify whether lumenal proteins are transported across the thylakoid membrane by a Sec- or delta pH-dependent pathway. A twin-arginine motif is essential but not sufficient to direct delta pH-dependent targeting; here we show that a second determinant is located in the hydrophobic region. A highly hydrophobic amino acid is found either two or three residues C-terminal to the twin-arginine in all known transfer peptides for the delta pH-dependent system, and substitution of this residue in the 23-kDa (23K) peptide markedly inhibits translocation. Further, whereas the insertion of twin-arginine in a Sec-dependent precursor does not permit efficient delta pH-dependent targeting, the simultaneous presence of a leucine at the +3 position (relative to the RR) enables the peptide to function as efficiently as an authentic transfer peptide. RRNVL, RRAAL and RRALA within a Sec targeting signal all support efficient delta pH-dependent targeting, RRNVA is less effective and RRNAA/RRNAG are totally ineffective. We conclude that the core signal for this pathway is a twin-arginine together with an adjacent hydrophobic determinant.

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