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The products of clones carrying the F plasmid transfer operon gene, traF, were analyzed. Proteins expressed in maxicells were labeled with [35S]methionine and examined by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and autoradiography. Clones carrying the wild-type traF gene expressed two polypeptide products that were not products of clones containing the traF13 amber mutation. These migrated with apparent molecular weights (Ma) of 27,000 and 25,000. A pulse-chase experiment suggested that the larger product was a precursor of the smaller one. In the presence of ethanol, the Ma-27,000 polypeptide accumulated and the Ma-25,000 product was not expressed. These results indicated that the traF protein undergoes proteolytic processing associated with export. Cell fractionation experiments further indicated that the greatest concentration of the mature (Ma 25,000) TraF protein was located in the periplasm. The DNA sequence of traF and the position of the transition mutation in traF13 DNA were also determined. Sequence analysis suggested that traF would be expressed as a 247-amino-acid, Mr-28,006 polypeptide. The 19 amino acids at the amino terminus of this polypeptide appear to constitute a typical membrane leader peptide, while the remainder of the molecule (Mr 25,942) is predicted to be primarily hydrophilic in character.