Novel Mechanism of Outer Membrane Targeting of Proteins in Gram-negative Bacteria

Mol Microbiol. 2008 Sep;69(6):1349-57. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2008.06366.x. Epub 2008 Jul 11.


In Gram-negative bacteria, all the proteins destined for the outer membrane are synthesized with a signal sequence that is cleaved, either by the signal peptidase LepB for integral outer membrane proteins or by LspA for lipoproteins, when they cross the cytoplasmic membrane. The Dickeya dadantii protein PnlH does not possess a cleavable signal sequence but is anchored in the outer membrane by an N-terminal targeting signal. Addition of the 41 N-terminal amino acids of PnlH is sufficient for anchoring various hybrid proteins in the outer membrane. This targeting signal presents some of the characteristics of a Tat (twin arginine translocation) signal sequence but without an obvious cleavage site. We found that the Tat translocation pathway is required for the targeting process. This new mechanism of outer membrane protein targeting is probably widespread as PnlH was also addressed to the outer membrane when expressed in Escherichia coli. As PnlH was not detected as a substrate by Tat signal sequence prediction programmes, this would suggest that there may be many other unknown Tat-dependent outer membrane proteins.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Enterobacteriaceae / metabolism*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Protein Sorting Signals
  • Protein Transport


  • Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Protein Sorting Signals