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J Cell Sci. 1999 Dec;112 ( Pt 23):4185-91.

Surfing the Sec61 channel: bidirectional protein translocation across the ER membrane.

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  • 1University of Cambridge, Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, Wellcome Trust/MRC Building, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2XY, UK.


Misfolded secretory and transmembrane proteins are retained in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and subsequently degraded. Degradation is primarily mediated by cytosolic proteasomes and thus requires retrograde transport out of the ER back to the cytosol. The available evidence suggests that the protein-conducting channel formed by the Sec61 complex is responsible for both forward and retrograde transport of proteins across the ER membrane. For transmembrane proteins, retrograde transport can be viewed as a reversal of integration of membrane proteins into the ER membrane. Retrograde transport of soluble proteins through the Sec61 channel after signal-peptide cleavage, however, must be mechanistically distinct from signal-peptide-mediated import into the ER through the same channel.

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