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J Mol Biol. 2012 Dec 14;424(5):368-78. doi: 10.1016/j.jmb.2012.10.010. Epub 2012 Oct 22.

Orientation of internal signal-anchor sequences at the Sec61 translocon.

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  • 1Biozentrum, University of Basel, Klingelbergstrasse 70, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland.


Translocation and insertion of secretory and membrane proteins at the endoplasmic reticulum are mediated by the Sec61 translocon. Evidence from in vivo as well as in vitro experiments indicates that N-terminal signal-anchor sequences initially insert N-first before they invert their orientation to translocate the C-terminus. Inversion is driven by flanking charges according to the positive-inside rule and inhibited by increased signal hydrophobicity. Here, we show that upon extending the N-terminal hydrophilic domain preceding the signal core to more than ~20 residues, the insertion behavior changes. Apparent signal inversion and the effect of hydrophobicity are largely lost, suggesting that N-first insertion is limited to N-terminal signal anchors. Extended N-domains sterically hinder N-translocation in a length-dependent manner also for reverse signal anchors with inverted flanking charges. The results indicate a mechanistic difference in the insertion process of N-terminal and internal signal sequences.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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