The C-terminal tail of the bacterial translocation ATPase SecA modulates its activity

Research output: Working paper

External organisations

  • University of Birmingham, School of Biosciences, UK
  • Institute for Microbiology and Infection
  • ZMBH


In bacteria, the translocation of a subset of proteins across the cytoplasmic membrane by the Sec machinery requires SecA. Although SecA can recognise nascent polypeptides, the mechanism of cotranslational substrate protein recognition is not known. Here, we investigated the role of the C-terminal tail (CTT) of SecA, which consists of a flexible linker (FLD) and a small metal-binding domain (MBD), in its interaction with nascent polypeptides. Phylogenetic analysis and ribosome binding experiments indicated that the MBD interacts with 70S ribosomes. Disruption of the entire CTT or the MBD alone had opposing effects on ribosome binding, substrate-protein binding, ATPase activity and in vivo function. Autophotocrosslinking, mass spectrometry, x-ray crystallography and small-angle x-ray scattering experiments provided insight into the CTT-mediated conformational changes in SecA. Finally, photocrosslinking experiments indicated that binding of SecA to substrate protein affected its interaction with the ribosome. Taken together, our results suggest a mechanism for substrate protein recognition.


Original languageEnglish
PublishereLife Sciences Publications
Number of pages23
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Jun 2019