Signal peptides are selectively recognized and degraded by membrane associated proteases called as signal peptide peptidases. The hydrolysis of the signal peptide occurs only after its cleavage from the precursor. The possible reasons for this selectivity have been investigated. The results indicate that in signal peptides, leucine residues are clustered to a large extent on the same side of the membrane spanning alpha helix as the polar residues, but are distinctly separated along the length of the axis. Such topological differences in the distribution of amino acids on the surface of the membrane spanning alpha helix may play a crucial role in selective degradation of signal peptides.

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