Indexed on: 01 Oct '01Published on: 01 Oct '01Published in: The Journal of Membrane Biology
Membrane associated and secreted proteins are translated as precursors containing a signal peptide that allows protein-insertion into the membrane of the endoplasmic reticulum and is co-translationally removed in the lumen. The ability of the signal peptide to direct a polypeptide into the secretory pathway is exploited in methods developed to select cDNAs encoding such proteins. Different strategies are known in which cDNA libraries can be screened for signal peptides by the ability of the latter to rescue the translocation of signal sequence-less proteins. In one method, a cDNA library is tested for interleukin 2 receptor α chain translocation to the membrane in COS cells, in another one for invertase secretion from yeast. In this work, we compared the two systems by testing six mouse signal peptides in COS and yeast cells. All of them were functional in the mammalian system, whereas only three of them in yeast. Two other sequences needed the 5′ cDNA sequence flanking the ATG codon to be removed in order to enable protein translocation. Although the structure of signal sequences and the functioning of the secretory machinery are well conserved from prokaryotes to eukaryotes, it seems evident that not all signal peptides can be interchanged between different proteins and organisms. In particular, signal peptides that are functional in the mammalian system do not necessarily lead to protein translocation in yeast.