Translocation-competent microsomal membrane vesicles of dog pancreas were shown to selectively bind nascent, in vitro assembled polysomes synthesizing secretory protein (bovine prolactin) but not those synthesizing cytoplasmic protein (alpha and beta chain of rabbit globin). This selective polysome binding capacity was abolished when the microsomal vesicles were salt-extracted but was restored by an 11S protein (SRP, Signal Recognition Protein) previously purified from the salt-extract of microsomal vesicles (Walter and Blobel, 1980. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 77:7112-7116). SRP-dependent polysome recognition and binding to the microsomal membrane was shown to be a prerequisite for chain translocation. Modification of SRP by N-ethyl maleimide abolished its ability to mediate nascent polysome binding to the microsomal vesicles. Likewise, polysome binding to the microsomal membrane was largely abolished when beta-hydroxy leucine, a Leu analogue, was incorporated into nascent secretory polypeptides. The data in this and the preceding paper provide conclusive experimental evidence that chain translocation across the endoplasmic reticulum membrane is a receptor-mediated event and thus rule out proposals that chain translocation occurs spontaneously and without the mediation by proteins. Moreover, our data here demonstrate conclusively that the initial events that lead to translocation and provide for its specificity are protein-protein (signal sequence plus ribosome with SRP) and not protein-lipid (signal sequence with lipid bilayer) interactions.

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