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J Biol Chem. 2001 Oct 12;276(41):37909-15. Epub 2001 Aug 3.

Indecisive M13 procoat protein mutants bind to SecA but do not activate the translocation ATPase.

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Institute of Microbiology and Molecular Biology, University of Hohenheim, D-70593 Stuttgart, Germany.


The M13 procoat protein serves as the paradigm for the Sec-independent membrane insertion pathway. This protein is inserted into the inner membrane of Escherichia coli with two hydrophobic regions and a central periplasmic loop region of 20 amino acid residues. Extension of the periplasmic loop region renders M13 procoat membrane insertion Sec-dependent. Loop regions with 118 or more residues required SecA and SecYEG and were efficiently translocated in vivo. Two mutants having loop regions of 80 and 100 residues, respectively, interacted with SecA but failed to activate the membrane translocation ATPase of SecA in vitro. Similarly, a procoat mutant with two additional glutamyl residues in the loop region showed binding to SecA but did not stimulate the ATPase. The three mutants were also defective for precursor-stimulated binding of SecA to the membrane surface. Remarkably, the mutant proteins act as competitive inhibitors of the Sec translocase. This suggests that the region to be translocated is sensed by SecA but the activation of the SecA translocation ATPase is only successful for substrates with a minimum length of the translocated region.

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