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Cell. 1999 May 28;97(5):553-64.

BiP acts as a molecular ratchet during posttranslational transport of prepro-alpha factor across the ER membrane.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115-6091, USA.


We have addressed the mechanism by which proteins are posttranslationally transported across the membrane of the yeast endoplasmic reticulum (ER). We demonstrate that BiP (Kar2p), a member of the Hsp70 family resident in the ER lumen, acts as a molecular ratchet during translocation of the secretory protein prepro-alpha factor through the channel formed by the Sec complex. Multiple BiP molecules associate with each translocation substrate following interaction with the J domain of the Sec63p component of the Sec complex. Bound BiP minimizes passive backward movements of the substrate through the channel, and BiP's subsequent dissociation results in a free polypeptide in the ER lumen. Antibodies against the substrate can replace BiP, indicating that a Brownian ratchet is sufficient to achieve translocation.

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