We have used the chemically synthesized sequence of pre-pro-parathyroid hormone and several of its analogues to test the notion that the capacity of amphipathic peptides to aggregate in membranes and form ion-permeable channels correlates with their ability to function as signal sequences for secreted proteins. We found that pre-pro-parathyroid hormone (the signal sequence and pro-region of parathyroid hormone (M)), as well as some of its analogues, forms aggregates of monomers which are ion-permeable. The ion-permeable aggregates (2–3 monomers) formed by (M) are voltage-dependent and are more permeable for cations than for anions. The compounds which formed ion channels in bilayers also acted as potential signal sequences. We conclude that the ability of peptides to form ion-permeable pathways in bilayers may be correlated to their ability to function as signal peptides.

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