The Tat Protein Export Pathway.
Palmer T., Sargent F., Berks BC.
Proteins that reside partially or completely outside the bacterial cytoplasm require specialized pathways to facilitate their localization. Globular proteins that function in the periplasm must be translocated across the hydrophobic barrier of the inner membrane. While the Sec pathway transports proteins in a predominantly unfolded conformation, the Tat pathway exports folded protein substrates. Protein transport by the Tat machinery is powered solely by the transmembrane proton gradient, and there is no requirement for nucleotide triphosphate hydrolysis. Proteins are targeted to the Tat machinery by N-terminal signal peptides that contain a consensus twin arginine motif. In Escherichia coli and Salmonella there are approximately thirty proteins with twin arginine signal peptides that are transported by the Tat pathway. The majority of these bind complex redox cofactors such as iron sulfur clusters or the molybdopterin cofactor. Here we describe what is known about Tat substrates in E. coli and Salmonella, the function and mechanism of Tat protein export, and how the cofactor insertion step is coordinated to ensure that only correctly assembled substrates are targeted to the Tat machinery.