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J Mol Biol. 2007 Jan 26;365(4):995-1004. Epub 2006 Oct 28.

The mechanosensitive channel protein MscL is targeted by the SRP to the novel YidC membrane insertion pathway of Escherichia coli.

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Institute of Microbiology, University of Hohenheim, 70599 Stuttgart, Germany.


The mechanosensitive channel MscL in the inner membrane of Escherichia coli is a homopentameric complex involved in homeostasis when cells are exposed to hypo-osmotic conditions. The E. coli MscL protein is synthesized as a polypeptide of 136 amino acid residues and uses the bacterial signal recognition particle (SRP) for membrane targeting. The protein is inserted into the membrane independently of the Sec translocon. Mutants affected in the Sec-components are competent for MscL assembly. Translocation of the periplasmic domain was detected using a membrane-impermeant, sulfhydryl-specific gel-shift reagent. The modification of a single cysteine residue at position 68 indicated its translocation across the inner membrane. From these in vivo experiments, it is concluded that the electrical chemical membrane potential is not necessary for membrane insertion of MscL. However, depletion of the membrane insertase YidC inhibits translocation of the protein across the membrane. We show here that YidC is essential for efficient membrane insertion of the MscL protein. YidC is a component of a recently identified membrane insertion pathway that is evolutionarily conserved in bacteria, mitochondria and chloroplasts.

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