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The TatC protein is an essential component of the Escherichia coli twin-arginine (Tat) protein translocation pathway. It is a polytopic membrane protein that forms a complex with TatB, together acting as the receptor for Tat substrates. In this study we have constructed 57 individual cysteine substitutions throughout the protein. Each of the substitutions resulted in a TatC protein that was competent to support Tat-dependent protein translocation. Accessibility studies with membrane-permeant and -impermeant thiol-reactive reagents demonstrated that TatC has six transmembrane helices, rather than the four suggested by a previous study (K. Gouffi, C.-L. Santini, and L.-F. Wu, FEBS Lett. 525:65-70, 2002). Disulfide cross-linking experiments with TatC proteins containing single cysteine residues showed that each transmembrane domain of TatC was able to interact with the same domain from a neighboring TatC protein. Surprisingly, only three of these cysteine variants retained the ability to cross-link at low temperatures. These results are consistent with the likelihood that most of the disulfide cross-links are between TatC proteins in separate TatBC complexes, suggesting that TatC is located on the periphery of the complex.

Original publication




Journal article


J Bacteriol

Publication Date





5482 - 5494


Amino Acid Substitution, Escherichia coli, Escherichia coli Proteins, Membrane Transport Proteins, Models, Biological, Models, Molecular, Mutagenesis, Site-Directed, Protein Binding, Protein Interaction Mapping, Protein Structure, Secondary, Temperature