Nanodiscs unravel the interaction between the SecYEG channel and its cytosolic partner SecA

Meriem Alami, Kush Dalal, Barbara Lelj-Garolla, Stephen G. Sligar, Franck Duong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The translocon is a membrane-embedded protein assembly that catalyzes protein movement across membranes. The core translocon, the SecYEG complex, forms oligomers, but the protein-conducting channel is at the center of the monomer. Defining the properties of the SecYEG protomer is thus crucial to understand the underlying function of oligomerization. We report here the reconstitution of a single SecYEG complex into nano-scale lipid bilayers, termed Nanodiscs. These water-soluble particles allow one to probe the interactions of the SecYEG complex with its cytosolic partner, the SecA dimer, in a membrane-like environment. The results show that the SecYEG complex triggers dissociation of the SecA dimer, associates only with the SecA monomer and suffices to (pre)-activate the SecA ATPase. Acidic lipids surrounding the SecYEG complex also contribute to the binding affinity and activation of SecA, whereas mutations in the largest cytosolic loop of the SecY subunit, known to abolish the translocation reaction, disrupt both the binding and activation of SecA. Altogether, the results define the fundamental contribution of the SecYEG protomer in the translocation subreactions and illustrate the power of nanoscale lipid bilayers in analyzing the dynamics occurring at the membrane.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1995-2004
Number of pages10
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 18 2007


  • Membrane
  • Nanodiscs
  • SecA
  • SecYEG
  • Translocon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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