In eukaryotic cells, the ribosome-Sec61 translocon complex (RTC) establishes membrane protein topology by cotranslationally partitioning nascent polypeptides into the cytosol, ER lumen, and lipid bilayer. Using photocrosslinking, collisional quenching, cysteine accessibility, and protease protection, we show that a canonical type II signal anchor (SA) acquires its topology through four tightly coupled and mechanistically distinct steps: (1) head-first insertion into Sec61α, (2) nascent chain accumulation within the RTC, (3) inversion from type I to type II topology, and (4) stable translocation of C-terminal flanking residues. Progression through each stage is induced by incremental increases in chain length and involves abrupt changes in the molecular environment of the SA. Importantly, type II SA inversion deviates from a type I SA at an unstable intermediate whose topology is controlled by dynamic interactions between the ribosome and translocon. Thus, the RTC coordinates SA topogenesis within a protected environment via sequential energetic transitions of the TM segment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)