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Biotechnol J. 2011 Jun;6(6):660-7. doi: 10.1002/biot.201000334. Epub 2011 May 13.

Coupling between codon usage, translation and protein export in Escherichia coli.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA.


Proteins destined for export via the Sec-dependent pathway are synthesized with a short N-terminal signal peptide. A requirement for export is that the proteins are in a translocationally competent state. This is a loosely folded state that allows the protein to pass through the SecYEG apparatus and pass into the periplasm. In order to maintain pre-secretory proteins in an export-competent state, there are many factors that slow the folding of the pre-secretory protein in the cytoplasm. These include cytoplasmic chaperones, such as SecB, and the signal recognition particle, which bind the pre-secretory protein and direct it to the cytoplasmic membrane for export. Recently, evidence has been published that non-optimal codons in the signal sequence are important for a time-critical early event to allow the correct folding of pre-secretory proteins. This review details the recent developments in folding of the signal peptide and the pre-secretory protein.

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