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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2003 Oct;60(10):2034-52.

The bacterial translocase: a dynamic protein channel complex.

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Department of Microbiology, Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute, University of Groningen, Kerklaan 30, 9751 NN Haren, The Netherlands.


The major route of protein translocation in bacteria is the so-called general secretion pathway (Sec-pathway). This route has been extensively studied in Escherichia coli and other bacteria. The movement of preproteins across the cytoplasmic membrane is mediated by a multimeric membrane protein complex called translocase. The core of the translocase consists of a proteinaceous channel formed by an oligomeric assembly of the heterotrimeric membrane protein complex SecYEG and the peripheral adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase) SecA as molecular motor. Many secretory proteins utilize the molecular chaperone SecB for targeting and stabilization of the unfolded state prior to translocation, while most nascent inner membrane proteins are targeted to the translocase by the signal recognition particle and its membrane receptor. Translocation is driven by ATP hydrolysis and the proton motive force. In the last decade, genetic and biochemical studies have provided detailed insights into the mechanism of preprotein translocation. Recent crystallographic studies on SecA, SecB and the SecYEG complex now provide knowledge about the structural features of the translocation process. Here, we will discuss the mechanistic and structural basis of the translocation of proteins across and the integration of membrane proteins into the cytoplasmic membrane.

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