PerspectiveStructural Biology

Membrane Protein Insertion and Stability

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Science  04 Mar 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5714, pp. 1425-1426
DOI: 10.1126/science.1110525

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The translocon is an endoplasmic reticulum membrane protein that has the dual ability to insert a newly synthesized polypeptide chain into a cell membrane or secrete it across a cell membrane. This process has been exploited to assess the energetics of transmembrane-helices, as described in two recent studies by the von Heijne and White groups (published here and elsewhere). In a Perspective, MacKinnon discusses the implications of this work for membrane protein structure and function.