Functional substitution of the signal recognition particle 54-kDa subunit by its Escherichia coli homolog

H. D. Bernstein*, D. Zopf, D. M. Freymann, P. Walter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


The 54-kDa subunit of the mammalian signal recognition particle (SRP54) binds to the signal sequences of nascent secretory and transmembrane proteins and facilitates their cotranslational targeting to the membrane translocation apparatus in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). A 48-kDa Escherichia coli protein that shares extensive sequence similarity with SRP54 was identified in homology searches. Recent genetic experiments by Phillips and Silhavy [Phillips, G. J. and Silhavy, T. J. (1992) Nature (London) 359, 744-746] have shown that depletion of this protein, designated Ffh (fifty-four homolog), leads to a significant secretory defect in vivo. We demonstrate here that Ffh is structurally and functionally related to SRP54 by virtue of its ability to mimic closely its mammalian counterpart in several established biochemical assays, thereby suggesting that it plays a direct role in protein export. Ffh assembled efficiently with mammalian SRP components into a chimeric ribonucleoprotein ['SRP(Ffh)'] and bound at the site normally occupied by SRP54. Like SRP54, the Ffh moiety of the chimeric particle specifically recognized the signal sequence of preprolactin in a photocrosslinking assay. Moreover, Ffh could also act in concert with other SRP components to arrest elongation of preprolactin upon recognition of the signal sequence. In all of these assays, Ffh had approximately the same specific activity as SRP54. In contrast, SRP(Ffh) did not promote the translocation of preprolactin across the membrane of microsomal vesicles, suggesting that Ffh cannot mediate an interaction with a membrane component that is required for the translocation of nascent chains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5229-5233
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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