Denovo designing: a novel signal peptide for tat translocation pathway to transport activin A to the periplasmic space of E. coli

  • Farshid Zandsalimi
  • Zahra HajihassanEmail author
  • Roghaye Hamidi
Original Research Paper



The twin-arginine translocation (Tat) pathway is one of the bacterial secretory strategies which exports folded proteins across the cytoplasmic membrane.


In the present study, we designed a novel Tat-signal peptide for secretion of human activin A used as a recombinant protein model here. In doing so, Haloferax volcanii, Halobacterium salinarum, and Escherichia coli Tat specific signal peptides were aligned by ClustalW program to determine conserved and more frequently used residues. After making the initial signal peptide sequence and doing some mutations, efficiency of this designed signal peptide was evaluated using a set of well-known software programs such as TatP, PRED-TAT, and Phobius. Then the best complex between TatC as an initiator protein in Tat secretory machine and the new designed signal peptide connected to activin A with the lowest binding energy was constructed by HADDOCK server, and ΔΔG value of − 5.5 kcal/mol was calculated by FoldX module. After that, efficiency of this novel signal peptide for secretion of human activin A to the periplasmic space of E. coli Rosetta-gami (DE3) strain was experimentally evaluated; to scrutinize the activity of the novel signal peptide, Iranian Bacillus Licheniformis α-Amylase enzyme signal peptide as a Sec pathway signal peptide was used as a positive control. The quantitative analysis of western blotting bands by ImageJ software confirmed the high secretion ability of the new designed signal peptide; translocation of 69% of the produced recombinant activin A to the periplasmic space of E. coli. Circular Dichroism (CD) spectroscopy technique also approved the proper secondary structure of activin A secreted to the periplasmic space. The biological activity of activin A was also confirmed by differentiation of K562 erythroleukemia cells to the red blood cell by measuring the amount of hemoglobin or Fe2+ ion using ICP method.


In conclusion, this novel designed signal peptide can be used to secrete any other recombinant proteins to the periplasmic space of E. coli efficiently.


Twin-arginine translocation Activin A Signal peptide HADDOCK server 





Twin-arginine translocation


Signal peptide


Amino acid


Sodium dodecyl sulfate–polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis



The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support of University of Tehran for this research under Grant Number 28669/06/09. This work was supported also by grant from Iran National Science Foundation with Grant Number 91000470.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Life Science Engineering, Faculty of New Sciences and TechnologiesUniversity of TehranTehranIran
  2. 2.Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Biological SciencesTarbiat Modares UniversityTehranIran

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