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EMBO J. 1985 Dec 1;4(12):3351-6.

The SecY membrane component of the bacterial protein export machinery: analysis by new electrophoretic methods for integral membrane proteins.


The product of the secY (prlA) gene (the SecY protein) involved in protein export in Escherichia coli was overproduced and localized in the cytoplasmic (inner) membrane. Because of its strong interaction with a non-ionic detergent (NP40), it partitioned into the detergent layer during electroblotting through a NP40-containing gel (detergent blotting), and it formed a horizontal streak in the O'Farrell two-dimensional gel electrophoretic system. Consequently, we developed an alternative two-dimensional gel procedure, which proved useful for analysis of integral membrane proteins, especially in combination with detergent blotting. SDS-gel electrophoresis was carried out successively through gels of lower (first dimension) and higher (second dimension) sieving effects. Many membrane proteins, unlike soluble proteins, formed spots off and above the diagonal line, and all of these spots partitioned exclusively into the detergent layer. A characteristic pattern of integral membrane proteins of E. coli was thus obtained and the spot of the SecY protein in the cytoplasmic membrane was identified even when it was not overproduced. These results show that the gene secY specifies an integral membrane component of the protein export machinery.

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