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Phospholipids and a Protein-Conducting Channel Regulate Cotranslational Protein Targeting


Akopian, David (2014) Phospholipids and a Protein-Conducting Channel Regulate Cotranslational Protein Targeting. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/PMBG-Y424.


Signal recognition particle (SRP) and signal recognition particle receptor (SR) are evolutionarily conserved GTPases that deliver secretory and membrane proteins to the protein-conducting channel Sec61 complex in the lipid bilayer of the endoplasmic reticulum in eukaryotes or the SecYEG complex in the inner membrane of bacteria. Unlike the canonical Ras-type GTPases, SRP and SR are activated via nucleotide-dependent heterodimerization. Upon formation of the SR•SRP targeting complex, SRP and SR undergo a series of discrete conformational changes that culminate in their reciprocal activation and hydrolysis of GTP. How the SR•SRP GTPase cycle is regulated and coupled to the delivery of the cargo protein to the protein-conducting channel at the target membrane is not well-understood. Here we examine the role of the lipid bilayer and SecYEG in regulation of the SRP-mediated protein targeting pathway and show that they serve as important biological cues that spatially control the targeting reaction.

In the first chapter, we show that anionic phospholipids of the inner membrane activate the bacterial SR, FtsY, and favor the late conformational states of the targeting complex conducive to efficient unloading of the cargo. The results of our studies suggest that the lipid bilayer acts as a spatial cue that weakens the interaction of the cargo protein with SRP and primes the complex for unloading its cargo onto SecYEG.

In the second chapter, we focus on the effect of SecYEG on the conformational states and activity of the targeting complex. While phospholipids prime the complex for unloading its cargo, they are insufficient to trigger hydrolysis of GTP and the release of the cargo from the complex. SecYEG modulates the conformation of the targeting complex and triggers the GTP hydrolysis from the complex, thus driving the targeting reaction to completion. The results of this study suggest that SecYEG is not a passive recipient of the cargo protein; rather, it actively releases the cargo from the targeting complex. Together, anionic phospholipids and SecYEG serve distinct yet complementary roles. They spatially control the targeting reaction in a sequential manner, ensuring efficient delivery and unloading of the cargo protein.

In the third chapter, we reconstitute the transfer reaction in vitro and visualize it in real time. We show that the ribosome-nascent chain complex is transferred to SecYEG via a stepwise mechanism with gradual dissolution and formation of the contacts with SRP and SecYEG, respectively, explaining how the cargo is kept tethered to the membrane during the transfer and how its loss to the cytosol is avoided.

In the fourth chapter, we examine interaction of SecYEG with secretory and membrane proteins and attempt to address the role of a novel insertase YidC in this interaction. We show that detergent-solubilized SecYEG is capable of discriminating between the nascent chains of various lengths and engages a signal sequence in a well-defined conformation in the absence of accessory factors. Further, YidC alters the conformation of the signal peptide bound to SecYEG. The results described in this chapter show that YidC affects the SecYEG-nascent chain interaction at early stages of translocation/insertion and suggest a YidC-facilitated mechanism for lateral exit of transmembrane domains from SecYEG into the lipid bilayer.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Signal Recognition Particle, SecYEG, Ribosome Nascent Chain Complex, Phospholipid, GTPase
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Major Option:Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Shan, Shu-ou
Thesis Committee:
  • Rees, Douglas C. (chair)
  • Chan, David C.
  • Clemons, William M.
  • Shan, Shu-ou
Defense Date:19 May 2014
Non-Caltech Author Email:davidakopian2008 (AT)
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05202014-104709210
Persistent URL:
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription DOIArticle adapted for ch. 1 DOIArticle adapted for ch. 2
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:8247
Deposited By: David Akopian
Deposited On:21 May 2014 16:42
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 00:04

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