A Hinged Signal Peptide Hairpin Enables Tat-Dependent Protein Translocation. Academic Article uri icon


  • The Tat machinery catalyzes the transport of folded proteins across the bacterial cytoplasmic membrane and the thylakoid membrane in plants. Using fluorescence quenching and cross-linking approaches, we demonstrate that the Escherichia coli TatBC complex catalyzes insertion of a pre-SufI signal peptide hairpin that penetrates about halfway across the membrane bilayer. Analysis of 512 bacterial Tat signal peptides using secondary structure prediction and docking algorithms suggest that this hairpin interaction mode is generally conserved. An internal cross-link in the signal peptide that blocks transport but does not affect binding indicates that a signal peptide conformational change is required during translocation. These results suggest, to our knowledge, a novel hairpin-hinge model in which the signal peptide hairpin unhinges during movement of the mature domain across the membrane. Thus, in addition to enabling the necessary recognition, the interaction of Tat signal peptides with the receptor complex plays a critical role in the transport process itself.

published proceedings

  • Biophys J

altmetric score

  • 3.1

author list (cited authors)

  • Hamsanathan, S., Anthonymuthu, T. S., Bageshwar, U. K., & Musser, S. M.

citation count

  • 13

complete list of authors

  • Hamsanathan, Shruthi||Anthonymuthu, Tamil S||Bageshwar, Umesh K||Musser, Siegfried M

publication date

  • January 2017