Long-Timescale Dynamics and Regulation of Sec-Facilitated Protein Translocation

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We present a coarse-grained modeling approach that spans the nanosecond- to minute-timescale dynamics of cotranslational protein translocation. The method enables direct simulation of both integral membrane protein topogenesis and transmembrane domain (TM) stop-transfer efficiency. Simulations reveal multiple kinetic pathways for protein integration, including a mechanism in which the nascent protein undergoes slow-timescale reorientation, or flipping, in the confined environment of the translocon channel. Competition among these pathways gives rise to the experimentally observed dependence of protein topology on ribosomal translation rate and protein length. We further demonstrate that sigmoidal dependence of stop-transfer efficiency on TM hydrophobicity arises from local equilibration of the TM across the translocon lateral gate, and it is predicted that slowing ribosomal translation yields decreased stop-transfer efficiency in long proteins. This work reveals the balance between equilibrium and nonequilibrium processes in protein targeting, and it provides insight into the molecular regulation of the Sec translocon




Zhang, B., & Miller, T. F. (2012). Long-Timescale Dynamics and Regulation of Sec-Facilitated Protein Translocation. Cell Reports, 2(4), 927–937. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2012.08.039

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