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EMBO J. 1989 Mar;8(3):955-9.

SecA protein, a peripheral protein of the Escherichia coli plasma membrane, is essential for the functional binding and translocation of proOmpA.

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Molecular Biology Institute, University of California, Los Angeles 90024-1570.


We have reconstituted protein translocation across plasma membrane vesicles of Escherichia coli using purified proOmpA and trigger factor, a 63 kd soluble protein. Treatment of membrane vesicles with urea inactivates them for translocation unless a factor present in cytoplasmic extracts is added during the translocation reaction. Sedimentation analysis showed that the stimulatory activity is of distinctly higher mol. wt than trigger factor. Cytoplasmic extracts from a strain that greatly overproduces the SecA protein are highly enriched in the stimulatory activity for untreated membranes and restore translocation to urea-treated membranes, suggesting that this protein is the stimulatory factor. This assay was used to monitor the isolation of SecA protein from the overproducing strain. The purified protein is soluble, yet binds peripherally to membranes with high affinity and supports translocation. Using pure proOmpA, SecA protein, trigger factor and urea-treated membranes, the protein export process was resolved into binding and translocation steps. We find that proOmpA binds to membrane vesicles with or without SecA protein, but that translocation only occurs when SecA was bound prior to proOmpA.

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