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Mol Microbiol. 1998 Sep;29(5):1179-90.

Preprotein transfer to the Escherichia coli translocase requires the co-operative binding of SecB and the signal sequence to SecA.

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Department of Microbiology, Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.


In Escherichia coli, precursor proteins are targeted to the membrane-bound translocase by the cytosolic chaperone SecB. SecB binds to the extreme carboxy-terminus of the SecA ATPase translocase subunit, and this interaction is promoted by preproteins. The mutant SecB proteins, L75Q and E77K, which interfere with preprotein translocation in vivo, are unable to stimulate in vitro translocation. Both mutants bind proOmpA but fail to support the SecA-dependent membrane binding of proOmpA because of a marked reduction in their binding affinities for SecA. The stimulatory effect of preproteins on the interaction between SecB and SecA exclusively involves the signal sequence domain of the preprotein, as it can be mimicked by a synthetic signal peptide and is not observed with a mutant preprotein (delta8proOmpA) bearing a non-functional signal sequence. Delta8proOmpA is not translocated across wild-type membranes, but the translocation defect is suppressed in inner membrane vesicles derived from a prIA4 strain. SecB reduces the translocation of delta8proOmpA into these vesicles and almost completely prevents translocation when, in addition, the SecB binding site on SecA is removed. These data demonstrate that efficient targeting of preproteins by SecB requires both a functional signal sequence and a SecB binding domain on SecA. It is concluded that the SecB-SecA interaction is needed to dissociate the mature preprotein domain from SecB and that binding of the signal sequence domain to SecA is required to ensure efficient transfer of the preprotein to the translocase.

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