Escherichia coli YajC is a small integral membrane protein with a single transmembrane helix. The gene yajC is part of the secD operon and the protein is identified in the SecDF-YajC complex. However, the exact function of YajC remains a mystery. While its function is usually discussed in the context of the SecDF-YajC complex, studies have shown that SecD/F, rather than YajC, are essential for those functions. Recently YajC is identified as the mysterious protein that co-crystallized with AcrB. To further investigate the structure of YajC, we expressed and purified the protein in a detergent solubilized state. The protein assumed a folded structure containing mixed α/β secondary structures, consistent with the structural prediction. Using signal Cys mutations and thiol-specific probes, we found the C-terminus of YajC was cytoplasmic, while the N-terminus of YajC was buried in the membrane. In addition, we expressed and purified a truncated fragment of YajC that corresponded to the C-terminal cytoplasmic domain (YajCCT). YajCCT formed a compact structure rich in β-strands and existed as a trimer.
Protein & Peptide Letters publishes short papers in all important aspects of protein and peptide research, including structural studies, recombinant expression, function, synthesis, enzymology, immunology, molecular modeling, drug design etc. Manuscripts must have a significant element of novelty, timeliness and urgency that merit rapid publication. Reports of crystallisation, and preliminary structure determinations of biologically important proteins are acceptable. Purely theoretical papers are also acceptable provided they provide new insight into the principles of protein/peptide structure and function.