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RNA. 2011 May;17(5):892-902. doi: 10.1261/rna.2610411. Epub 2011 Apr 1.

Synergistic actions between the SRP RNA and translating ribosome allow efficient delivery of the correct cargos during cotranslational protein targeting.

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Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA.


During cotranslational protein targeting by the Signal Recognition Particle (SRP), the correct cargo accelerates stable complex assembly between the SRP and SRP receptor (FtsY) by several orders of magnitude, thus enabling rapid and faithful cargo delivery to the target membrane. The molecular mechanism underlying this cargo-induced rate acceleration has been unclear. Here we show that the SRP RNA allows assembly of the SRP-FtsY complex to be specifically stimulated by a correct cargo, and, reciprocally, a correct cargo enables the SRP RNA to optimize its electrostatic interactions with FtsY. These results combined with recent structural work led us to suggest a "conformational selection" model that explains the synergistic action of the SRP RNA with the cargo in accelerating complex assembly. In addition to its previously proposed role in preventing the premature dissociation of SRP and FtsY, we found that the SRP RNA also plays an active role in ensuring the formation of productive assembly intermediates, thus guiding the SRP and FtsY through the most efficient pathway of assembly.

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