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J Mol Biol. 2010 Mar 12;396(5):1346-60. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2009.12.059. Epub 2010 Jan 11.

A folding zone in the ribosomal exit tunnel for Kv1.3 helix formation.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6085, USA.


Although it is now clear that protein secondary structure can be acquired early, while the nascent peptide resides within the ribosomal exit tunnel, the principles governing folding of native polytopic proteins have not yet been elucidated. We now report an extensive investigation of native Kv1.3, a voltage-gated K(+) channel, including transmembrane and linker segments synthesized in sequence. These native segments form helices vectorially (N- to C-terminus) only in a permissive vestibule located in the last 20 A of the tunnel. Native linker sequences similarly fold in this vestibule. Finally, secondary structure acquired in the ribosome is retained in the translocon. These findings emerge from accessibility studies of a diversity of native transmembrane and linker sequences and may therefore be applicable to protein biogenesis in general.

Copyright (c) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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