The immediate environment of nascent membrane proteins undergoing integration into the ER membrane was investigated by photocrosslinking. Nascent polypeptides of different lengths, each containing a single IgM transmembrane sequence that functions either as a stop-transfer or a signal-anchor sequence, were synthesized by in vitro translation of truncated mRNAs in the presence of N epsilon-(5-azido-2-nitrobenzoyl)-Lys-tRNA, signal recognition particle, and microsomal membranes. This yielded nascent chains with photoreactive probes at one end of the transmembrane sequence where two lysine residues are located. When irradiated, these nascent chains reacted covalently with several ER proteins. One prominent crosslinking target was a glycoprotein similar in size to a protein termed mp39, shown previously to be situated adjacent to a secretory protein during its translocation across the ER membrane (Krieg, U. C., A. E. Johnson, and P. Walter. 1989. J. Cell Biol. 109:2033-2043; Wiedmann, M., D. Goerlich, E. Hartmann, T. V. Kurzchalia, and T. A. Rapoport. 1989. FEBS (Fed. Eur. Biochem. Soc.) Lett. 257:263-268) and likely to be identical to a protein previously designated the signal sequence receptor (Wiedmann, M., T. V. Kurzchalia, E. Hartmann, and T. A. Rapoport. 1987. Nature (Lond.). 328:830-833). Changing the orientation of the transmembrane domain in the bilayer, or making the transmembrane domain the first topogenic sequence in the nascent chain instead of the second, did not significantly alter the identities of the ER proteins that were the primary crosslinking targets. Furthermore, the nascent chains crosslinked to the mp39-like glycoprotein and other microsomal proteins even after the cytoplasmic tail of the nascent chain had been lengthened by nearly 100 amino acids beyond the stop-transfer sequence. Yet when the nascent chain was allowed to terminate normally, the major photocrosslinks were no longer observed, including in particular that to the mp39-like glycoprotein. These results show that the transmembrane segment of a nascent membrane protein is located adjacent to the mp39-like glycoprotein and other ER proteins during the integration process, and that at least a portion of the nascent chain remains in close proximity to these ER proteins until translation has been completed.

This content is only available as a PDF.