Unlocking the bacterial SecY translocon

Robin A Corey, William J Allen, Joanna Komar, Simonas Masiulis, Sam Menzies, Alice Robson, Ian R Collinson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
1340 Downloads (Pure)


The Sec translocon performs protein secretion and membrane protein insertion at the plasma membrane of bacteria and archaea (SecYEG/β), and the endoplasmic reticular membrane of eukaryotes (Sec61). Despite numerous structures of the complex, the mechanism underlying translocation of pre-proteins, driven by the ATPase SecA in bacteria, remains unresolved. Here we present a series of biochemical and computational analyses exploring the consequences of signal sequence binding to SecYEG. The data demonstrate that a signal sequence-induced movement of transmembrane helix 7 unlocks the translocon and that this conformational change is communicated to the cytoplasmic faces of SecY and SecE, involved in SecA binding. Our findings progress the current understanding of the dynamic action of the translocon during the translocation initiation process. The results suggest that the converging effects of the signal sequence and SecA at the cytoplasmic face of SecYEG are decisive for the intercalation and translocation of pre-protein through the SecY channel. Corey et al. have used biochemical and computational techniques to analyze conformational changes in the bacterial SecYEG translocon upon signal sequence binding. These structural effects are likely key to understanding how the translocon is primed for translocation by the concerted action of the signal sequence and the ATPase SecA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2016


Dive into the research topics of 'Unlocking the bacterial SecY translocon'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this