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EMBO J. 1995 Mar 1;14(5):884-93.

The allele-specific synthetic lethality of prlA-prlG double mutants predicts interactive domains of SecY and SecE.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University, NJ 08544.


The secretion of proteins from the cytoplasm of Escherichia coli requires the interaction of two integral inner membrane components, SecY and SecE. We have devised a genetic approach to probe the molecular nature of the SecY-SecE interaction. Suppressor alleles of secY and secE, termed prlA and prlG, respectively, were analyzed in pair-wise combinations for synthetic phenotypes. From a total of 115 combinations, we found only seven pairs of alleles that exhibit a synthetic defect when present in combination with one another. The phenotypes observed are not the result of additive defects caused by the prl alleles, nor are they the consequence of multiple suppressors functioning within the same strain. In all cases, the synthetic defect is recessive to wild-type secY or secE provided in trans. The recessive nature argues for a defective interaction between the Prl suppressors. The extreme allele specificity and topological coincidence of the mutations represented by these seven pairs of alleles identify domains of interaction between SecY/PrlA and SecE/PrlG.

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