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Volume 1 (2002), Issue 1, Pages 27-34
Review Article

Getting on target: The archaeal signal recognition particle

1Department of Molecular Biology, University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, Tyler, TX 75708-3154, USA
2Department of Life Sciences, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheva 84105, Israel

Received 13 July 2001; Accepted 9 November 2001

Copyright © 2002 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Protein translocation begins with the efficient targeting of secreted and membrane proteins to complexes embedded within the membrane. In Eukarya and Bacteria, this is achieved through the interaction of the signal recognition particle (SRP) with the nascent polypeptide chain. In Archaea, homologs of eukaryal and bacterial SRP-mediated translocation pathway components have been identified. Biochemical analysis has revealed that although the archaeal system incorporates various facets of the eukaryal and bacterial targeting systems, numerous aspects of the archaeal system are unique to this domain of life. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly clear that elucidation of the archaeal SRP pathway will provide answers to basic questions about protein targeting that cannot be obtained from examination of eukaryal or bacterial models. In this review, recent data regarding the molecular composition, functional behavior and evolutionary significance of the archaeal signal recognition particle pathway are discussed.