Endoplasmic reticulum-bound ribosomes reside in stable association with the translocon following termination of protein synthesis.
In current views, translation-coupled ribosome binding to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane is transient, with association occurring via the signal recognition particle pathway and dissociation occurring upon the termination of protein synthesis. Recent studies indicate, however, that ribosomal subunits remain membrane-bound following the termination of protein synthesis. To define the mechanism of post-termination ribosome association with the ER membrane, membrane-bound ribosomes were detergent-solubilized from tissue culture cells at different stages of the protein synthesis cycle, and the composition of the ribosome-associated membrane protein fraction was determined. We report that ribosomes reside in stable association with the Sec61alpha-translocon following the termination stage of protein synthesis. Additionally, in vitro experiments revealed that solubilized, gradient-purified ribosome-translocon complexes were able to initiate the translation of secretory and cytosolic proteins and were functional in assays of signal sequence recognition. Using this experimental system, synthesis of signal sequence-bearing polypeptides yielded a tight ribosome-translocon junction; synthesis of nascent polypeptides lacking a signal sequence resulted in a disruption of this junction. On the basis of these data, we propose that in situ, ribosomes reside in association with the translocon throughout the cycle of protein synthesis, with membrane release occurring upon translation of proteins lacking topogenic signals.
Potter, MD; Nicchitta, CV
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