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Published September 2005 | Published
Journal Article Open

Modeling the Effects of prl Mutations on the Escherichia coli SecY Complex


The apparatus responsible for translocation of proteins across bacterial membranes is the conserved SecY complex, consisting of SecY, SecE, and SecG. Prior genetic analysis provided insight into the mechanisms of protein export, as well as the interactions between the component proteins. In particular, the prl suppressor alleles of secE and secY, which allow export of secretory proteins with defective signal sequences, have proven particularly useful. Here, we report the isolation of novel mutations in secE and secY, as well as the phenotypic effects of combinations of prl mutations. These new alleles, as well as previously characterized prl mutations, were analyzed in light of the recently published crystal structure of the archaeal SecY complex. Our results support and expand a model of Prl suppressor activity that proposes that all of the prlA and prlG alleles either destabilize the closed state of the channel or stabilize the open form. These mutants thus allow channel opening to occur without the triggering event of signal sequence binding that is required in a wild-type complex.

Additional Information

© 2005 American Society for Microbiology. Received 4 April 2005; Accepted 22 June 2005. We are very grateful to Tom Hill, Tom Rapoport, Tom Silhavy, Kevin Young, and Nick Hand for critical reading and discussion. We also thank Kurt Cannon, Eran Or, and Andrew Osborne for reading the manuscript. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (A.M.F.) and a postdoctoral fellowship from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation (W.M.C.).

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