Cryo-EM structure of the ribosome–SecYE complex in the membrane environment

Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, 2011, doi:10.1038/nsmb.2026, published on 17.04.2011

Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, online article

The ubiquitous SecY–Sec61 1 complex translocates nascent secretory proteins across cellular membranes and integrates membrane proteins into lipid bilayers. Several structures of mostly detergent-solubilized Sec complexes have been reported. Here we present a single-particle cryo-EM structure of the SecYEG complex in a membrane environment, bound to a translating ribosome, at subnanometer resolution. Using the SecYEG complex reconstituted in a so-called Nanodisc, we could trace the nascent polypeptide chain from the peptidyltransferase center into the membrane. The reconstruction allowed for the identification of ribosome–lipid interactions. The rRNA helix 59 (H59) directly contacts the lipid surface and appears to modulate the membrane in immediate vicinity to the proposed lateral gate of the protein-conducting channel (PCC). On the basis of our map and molecular dynamics simulations, we present a model of a signal anchor–gated PCC in the membrane.

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