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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

A five-residue sequence near the carboxyl terminus of the polytopic membrane protein lac permease is required for stability within the membrane.

The lac permease (lacY gene product) of Escherichia coli contains 417 amino acid residues and is predicted to have a short hydrophilic amino terminus on the inner surface of the cytoplasmic membrane, multiple transmembrane hydrophobic segments in alpha-helical conformation, and a 17-amino acid residue hydrophilic carboxyl-terminal tail on the inner surface of the membrane. To assess the importance of the carboxyl terminus, the properties of several truncation mutants were studied. The mutants were constructed by site-directed mutagenesis such that stop codons were placed at specified positions, and the altered lacY genes were expressed at a relatively low rate from plasmid pACYC184. Permease truncated at position 407 or 401 retains full activity, and a normal complement of molecules is present in the membrane, as judged by immunoblot analyses. Thus, it is apparent that the carboxyl-terminal tail plays no direct role in membrane insertion of the permease, its stability, or in the mechanism of lactose/H+ symport. In marked contrast, when truncations are made at residues 396 (i.e., 4 amino acid residues from the carboxyl terminus of putative helix XII), 389, 372, or 346, the permease is no longer found in the membrane. Remarkably, however, when each of the mutated lacY genes is expressed at a high rate by means of the T7 RNA polymerase system [Tabor, S. & Richardson, C. C. (1985) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 82, 1074-1079], all of the truncated permeases are present in the membrane, as indicated by [35S]methionine incorporation studies; however, permease truncated at residue 396, 389, 372, or 346 is defective with respect to lactose/H+ symport. Finally, pulse-chase experiments indicate that wild-type permease or permease truncated at residue 401 is stable, whereas permease truncated at or prior to residue 396 is degraded at a significant rate. The results are consistent with the notion that residues 396-401 in putative helix XII are important for protection against proteolytic degradation and suggest that this region of the permease may be necessary for proper folding.[1]


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