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Mol Biol Cell. 2012 Jul;23(14):2712-22. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E12-03-0228. Epub 2012 May 30.

Efficient secretion of small proteins in mammalian cells relies on Sec62-dependent posttranslational translocation.

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Department of Cell Biology, Sciences III, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.


Mammalian cells secrete a large number of small proteins, but their mode of translocation into the endoplasmic reticulum is not fully understood. Cotranslational translocation was expected to be inefficient due to the small time window for signal sequence recognition by the signal recognition particle (SRP). Impairing the SRP pathway and reducing cellular levels of the translocon component Sec62 by RNA interference, we found an alternate, Sec62-dependent translocation path in mammalian cells required for the efficient translocation of small proteins with N-terminal signal sequences. The Sec62-dependent translocation occurs posttranslationally via the Sec61 translocon and requires ATP. We classified preproteins into three groups: 1) those that comprise ≤100 amino acids are strongly dependent on Sec62 for efficient translocation; 2) those in the size range of 120-160 amino acids use the SRP pathway, albeit inefficiently, and therefore rely on Sec62 for efficient translocation; and 3) those larger than 160 amino acids depend on the SRP pathway to preserve a transient translocation competence independent of Sec62. Thus, unlike in yeast, the Sec62-dependent translocation pathway in mammalian cells serves mainly as a fail-safe mechanism to ensure efficient secretion of small proteins and provides cells with an opportunity to regulate secretion of small proteins independent of the SRP pathway.

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