Structure of the Get3 targeting factor in complex with its membrane protein cargo

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Science  06 Mar 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6226, pp. 1152-1155
DOI: 10.1126/science.1261671

How to GET to the right membrane

Membrane proteins with a hydrophobic transmembrane domain (TMD) play critical roles in virtually all aspects of cell physiology. After it has been synthesized in the cytosol, this TMD must be targeted to and inserted into the correct membrane. The GET pathway is one of two targeting pathways to the endoplasmic reticulum conserved across all eukaryotes. It is not clear how the central targeting factor, Get3, recognizes a TMD to shield it from aggregation until it is successfully inserted into the membrane. Now, Mateja et al. show that the functional targeting complex comprises a Get3 dimer bound to a single TMD. The helical hydrophobic TMD binds deep within a large hydrophobic groove in the Get3 dimer. This groove closes slightly upon TMD binding, forming a dynamic “lid” over the mouth of the groove.

Science, this issue p. 1152


Tail-anchored (TA) proteins are a physiologically important class of membrane proteins targeted to the endoplasmic reticulum by the conserved guided-entry of TA proteins (GET) pathway. During transit, their hydrophobic transmembrane domains (TMDs) are chaperoned by the cytosolic targeting factor Get3, but the molecular nature of the functional Get3-TA protein targeting complex remains unknown. We reconstituted the physiologic assembly pathway for a functional targeting complex and showed that it comprises a TA protein bound to a Get3 homodimer. Crystal structures of Get3 bound to different TA proteins showed an α-helical TMD occupying a hydrophobic groove that spans the Get3 homodimer. Our data elucidate the mechanism of TA protein recognition and shielding by Get3 and suggest general principles of hydrophobic domain chaperoning by cellular targeting factors.

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