GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology


Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology

First Thesis Advisor

Dr. Reid Gilmore


Signal Recognition Particle, Protein Transport, Membrane Proteins, Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins, Protein Biosynthesis


Cotranslational translocation is initiated by targeting of a ribosome-bound nascent polypeptide chain (RNC) to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane. The targeting reaction is coordinated by the signal recognition particle (SRP) through its interaction with the RNC and the membrane-bound SRP receptor (SR). A vacant translocon is a prerequisite for the subsequent nascent chain release from SRP-SR-RNC complex. It has been proposed that the protease-accessible cytosolic domains of the Sec61p complex play an important role in posttargeting steps by providing the binding site for the ribosome or interacting with the SR to initiate the signal sequence releasing. In this study, we have investigated the detailed mechanism that allows transfer of the ribosome-nascent chain (RNC) from the SRP-SR complex to the translocon using yeast S. cerevisiaeas the model system.

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 sec61mutants impact different steps in the cotranslational translocation pathway.

An interaction between the signal recognition particle receptor (SR) and the Sec61 complex has been proposed to facilitate transfer of the ribosome-nascent chain (RNC) complex to an unoccupied translocon. The slow growth and cotranslational translocation defects caused by deletion of the transmembrane span of yeast SRβ (srp102pΔTMD) are exaggerated upon disruption of the SSH1 gene, which encodes the pore subunit of a cotranslational translocation channel. Disruption of the SBH2 gene, which encodes the β-subunit of the Ssh1p complex, likewise causes a synthetic growth defect when combined with srp102pΔTMD. The in vivo kinetics of translocon gating by RNCs were slow and inefficient in the ssh1Δ srp102pΔTMD mutant. A critical role for translocon β-subunits in SR recognition is supported by the observation that deletion of both translocon β-subunits causes a block in the cotranslational targeting pathway that resembles elimination of either subunit of the SR, and could be partially suppressed by expression of carboxy-terminal Sbh2p fragments.



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