Sequence-specific intramembrane proteolysis: identification of a recognition motif in rhomboid substrates.
Strisovsky K., Sharpe HJ., Freeman M.
Members of the widespread rhomboid family of intramembrane proteases cleave transmembrane domain (TMD) proteins to regulate processes as diverse as EGF receptor signaling, mitochondrial dynamics, and invasion by apicomplexan parasites. However, lack of information about their substrates means that the biological role of most rhomboids remains obscure. Knowledge of how rhomboids recognize their substrates would illuminate their mechanism and might also allow substrate prediction. Previous work has suggested that rhomboid substrates are specified by helical instability in their TMD. Here we demonstrate that rhomboids instead primarily recognize a specific sequence surrounding the cleavage site. This recognition motif is necessary for substrate cleavage, it determines the cleavage site, and it is more strictly required than TM helix-destabilizing residues. Our work demonstrates that intramembrane proteases can be sequence specific and that genome-wide substrate prediction based on their recognition motifs is feasible.