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Lookup NU author(s): Professor Bert van den Berg
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A conserved heterotrimeric membrane protein complex, the Sec61 or SecY complex, forms a protein-conducting channel, allowing polypeptides to be transferred across or integrated into membranes. We report the crystal structure of the complex from Methanococcus jannaschii at a resolution of 3.2 Å. The structure suggests that one copy of the heterotrimer serves as a functional translocation channel. The α-subunit has two linked halves, transmembrane segments 1–5 and 6–10, clamped together by the γ-subunit. A cytoplasmic funnel leading into the channel is plugged by a short helix. Plug displacement can open the channel into an ‘hourglass’ with a ring of hydrophobic residues at its constriction. This ring may form a seal around the translocating polypeptide, hindering the permeation of other molecules. The structure also suggests mechanisms for signal-sequence recognition and for the lateral exit of transmembrane segments of nascent membrane proteins into lipid, and indicates binding sites for partners that provide the driving force for translocation.
Author(s): Van den Berg B, Clemons WM Jr, Collinson I, Modis Y, Hartmann E, Harrison SC, Rapoport TA
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
ISSN (print): 0028-0836
ISSN (electronic): 1476-4687
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
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