Translocation of proteins across membranes of the endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondrion, and chloroplast has been shown to be mediated by targeting signals present in the transported proteins. To test whether the transport of proteins into peroxisomes is also mediated by a peptide targeting signal, we have studied the firefly luciferase gene that encodes a protein transported to peroxisomes in both insect and mammalian cells. We have identified two regions of luciferase which are necessary for transport of this protein into peroxisomes. We demonstrate that one of these, region II, represents a peroxisomal targeting signal because it is both necessary and sufficient for directing cytosolic proteins to peroxisomes. The signal is no more than twelve amino acids long and is located at the extreme carboxy-terminus of luciferase. The location of the targeting signal for translocation across the peroxisomal membrane therefore differs from the predominantly amino-terminal location of signals responsible for transport across the membranes of the endoplasmic reticulum, chloroplast, or mitochondrion.

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