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Comparative and Functional Genomics
Volume 2 (2001), Issue 5, Pages 275-288
Research Article

Identification of Membrane Proteins in the Hyperthermophilic Archaeon Pyrococcus Furiosus Using Proteomics and Prediction Programs

1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Georgia, Athens GA 30602, USA
2Biosciences Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL 60439, USA
3The Scripps Research Institute, Department of Cell Biology, SR11, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA
4Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Life Sciences Building, University of Georgia, Athens GA 30602, USA
5Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Bridgewater, NJ 08807, USA

Received 29 June 2001; Accepted 20 August 2001

Copyright © 2001 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.


Cell-free extracts from the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus were separated into membrane and cytoplasmic fractions and each was analyzed by 2D-gel electrophoresis. A total of 66 proteins were identified, 32 in the membrane fraction and 34 in the cytoplasmic fraction. Six prediction programs were used to predict the subcellular locations of these proteins. Three were based on signal-peptides (SignalP, TargetP, and SOSUISignal) and three on transmembrane-spanning α-helices (TSEG, SOSUI, and PRED-TMR2). A consensus of the six programs predicted that 23 of the 32 proteins (72%) from the membrane fraction should be in the membrane and that all of the proteins from the cytoplasmic fraction should be in the cytoplasm. Two membrane-associated proteins predicted to be cytoplasmic by the programs are also predicted to consist primarily of transmembrane-spanning β-sheets using porin protein models, suggesting that they are, in fact, membrane components. An ATPase subunit homolog found in the membrane fraction, although predicted to be cytoplasmic, is most likely complexed with other ATPase subunits in the membrane fraction. An additional three proteins predicted to be cytoplasmic but found in the membrane fraction, may be cytoplasmic contaminants. These include a chaperone homolog that may have attached to denatured membrane proteins during cell fractionation. Omitting these three proteins would boost the membrane-protein predictability of the models to near 80%. A consensus prediction using all six programs for all 2242 ORFs in the P. furiosus genome estimates that 24% of the ORF products are found in the membrane. However, this is likely to be a minimum value due to the programs’ inability to recognize certain membrane-related proteins, such as subunits associated with membrane complexes and porin-type proteins.