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Structure of the substrate-engaged SecA-SecY protein translocation machine.

  • Author(s): Ma, Chengying
  • Wu, Xiaofei
  • Sun, Dongjie
  • Park, Eunyong
  • Catipovic, Marco
  • Rapoport, Tom
  • Gao, Ning
  • Li, Long
  • et al.
Abstract

The Sec61/SecY channel allows the translocation of many proteins across the eukaryotic endoplasmic reticulum membrane or the prokaryotic plasma membrane. In bacteria, most secretory proteins are transported post-translationally through the SecY channel by the SecA ATPase. How a polypeptide is moved through the SecA-SecY complex is poorly understood, as structural information is lacking. Here, we report an electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) structure of a translocating SecA-SecY complex in a lipid environment. The translocating polypeptide chain can be traced through both SecA and SecY. In the captured transition state of ATP hydrolysis, SecAs two-helix finger is close to the polypeptide, while SecAs clamp interacts with the polypeptide in a sequence-independent manner by inducing a short β-strand. Taking into account previous biochemical and biophysical data, our structure is consistent with a model in which the two-helix finger and clamp cooperate during the ATPase cycle to move a polypeptide through the channel.

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