MOST proteins exported from mammalian cells contain a signal sequence which mediates targeting to and insertion into the mem-brane of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Involved in this process are the signal-recognition particle (SRP) and docking protein (DP), the receptor for SRP in the ER membrane. SRP interacts with the signal sequence on nascent polypeptide chains and retards their further elongation, which resumes only after interaction of the arrested ribosomal complex with the docking protein. SRP is a ribonucleoprotein particle comprising a 7S RNA and six polypeptides with relative molecular masses (Mr) of 9,000 (9K) 14K, 19K, 54K, 68K and 72K (ref. 1). The 9K and 14K proteins are essential for elongation arrest and the 68K-72K heterodimer is required for docking to the ER membrane. The 54K protein binds to the signal sequence when it emerges from the ribosome. Docking protein consists of two polypeptides, a 72K α-summit (DPα) and a 30K β-subunit (DPβ). No components structurally homologous to SRP and docking protein have yet been found in yeast or Escherichia coli. To understand the molecular nature of the interaction between the signal sequence and its receptor(s) we have characterized a complementary DNA coding for the 54K protein of SRP. Significant sequence homology was found to part of DPα and two E. coli proteins of unknown function. The homologous region includes a putative GTP#150;binding domain.
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