Structural and functional profiling of the lateral gate of the Sec61 translocon [Membrane Biology]

April 21st, 2014 by Reithinger, J. H., Yim, C., Kim, S., Lee, H., Kim, H.

The evolutionarily conserved Sec61 translocon mediates the translocation and membrane insertion of proteins. For the integration of proteins into the membrane, the Sec61 translocon opens laterally to the lipid bilayer. Previous studies suggest that the lateral opening of the channel is mediated by the helices TM2b and TM7 of a pore-forming subunit of the Sec61 translocon. To map key residues in TM2b and TM7 in yeast Sec61 that modulate lateral gating activity, we performed alanine scanning and in vivo site-directed photo-cross-linking experiments. Alanine scanning identified two groups of critical residues in the lateral gate, one group that leads to defects in the translocation and membrane insertion of proteins and the other group that causes faster translocation and facilitates membrane insertion. Photo-cross-linking data show that the former group of residues is located at the interface of the lateral gate. Furthermore, different degrees of defects for the membrane insertion of single- and double-spanning membrane proteins were observed depending on whether the mutations were located in TM2b or TM7. These results demonstrate subtle differences in the molecular mechanism of the signal sequence binding/opening of the lateral gate and membrane insertion of a succeeding transmembrane segment in a polytopic membrane protein.