Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology


Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology

First Thesis Advisor

Anthony Carruthers


Membrane Proteins; Genetic Translocation


The cytoplasmic surface of Sec61p is the binding site for the ribosome and has been proposed to interact with the signal recognition particle receptor during targeting of the ribosome nascent chain complex to the translocation channel. Point mutations in cytoplasmic loops six (L6) and eight (L8) of yeast Sec61p cause reductions in growth rates and defects in translocation of nascent polypeptides that utilize the cotranslational translocation pathway. Sec61 heterotrimers isolated from the L8 sec61 mutants have a greatly reduced affinity for 80S ribosomes. Cytoplasmic accumulation of protein precursors demonstrates that the initial contact between the large ribosomal subunit and the Sec61 complex is important for efficient insertion of a nascent polypeptide into the translocation pore. In contrast, point mutations in L6 of Sec61p inhibit cotranslational translocation without significantly reducing the ribosome binding activity, indicating that the L6 and L8 sec61 mutants impact different steps in the cotranslational translocation pathway.

Integral membrane proteins are cotranslationally inserted into the endoplasmic reticulum via the protein translocation channel, which mediates the translocation of lumenal domains, retention of cytosolic domains and integration of transmembrane spans into the phospholipid bilayer. We analyzed the in vivo kinetics of integration of model membrane proteins in Saccharomyces cerevisiae using ubiquitin translocation assay reporters. A signal anchor sequence from a type II membrane protein gates the translocon pore less rapidly than a cleavable signal sequence from a secretory protein. Transmembrane spans and lumenal domains are exposed to the cytosol during integration of a poly topic membrane protein. The conformational changes in the translocon that permit opening of the lumenal and lateral channel gates occur less rapidly than elongation of the nascent polypeptide. Cytosolic exposure of transmembrane spans and lumenal domains poses a challenge to the fidelity of membrane protein integration.



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