Flanking signal and mature peptide residues influence signal peptide cleavage

Khar Heng Choo, Shoba Ranganathan*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    57 Citations (Scopus)
    16 Downloads (Pure)


    Background: Signal peptides (SPs) mediate the targeting of secretory precursor proteins to the correct subcellular compartments in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Identifying these transient peptides is crucial to the medical, food and beverage and biotechnology industries yet our understanding of these peptides remains limited. This paper examines the most common type of signal peptides cleavable by the endoprotease signal peptidase I (SPase I), and the residues flanking the cleavage sites of three groups of signal peptide sequences, namely (i) eukaryotes (Euk) (ii) Gram-positive (Gram+) bacteria, and (iii) Gram-negative (Gram-) bacteria. Results: In this study, 2352 secretory peptide sequences from a variety of organisms with amino-terminal SPs are extracted from the manually curated SPdb database for analysis based on physicochemical properties such as pI, aliphatic index, GRAVY score, hydrophobicity, net charge and position-specific residue preferences. Our findings show that the three groups share several similarities in general, but they display distinctive features upon examination in terms of their amino acid compositions and frequencies, and various physico-chemical properties. Thus, analysis or prediction of their sequences should be separated and treated as distinct groups. Conclusion: We conclude that the peptide segment recognized by SPase I extends to the start of the mature protein to a limited extent, upon our survey of the amino acid residues surrounding the cleavage processing site. These flanking residues possibly influence the cleavage processing and contribute to non-canonical cleavage sites. Our findings are applicable in defining more accurate prediction tools for recognition and identification of cleavage site of SPs.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberS15
    Pages (from-to)1-11
    Number of pages11
    JournalBMC Bioinformatics
    Issue numberSUPPL. 12
    Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2008

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright 2008 Choo and Ranganathan; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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