Inverting the Topology of a Transmembrane Protein by Regulating the Translocation of the First Transmembrane Helix

Qiuyue Chen, Bray Denard, Ching En Lee, Sungwon Han, James S. Ye, Jin Ye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


TM4SF20 (transmembrane 4 L6 family 20) is a polytopic membrane protein that inhibits proteolytic processing of CREB3L1 (cAMP response element-binding protein 3-like 1), a membrane-bound transcription factor that blocks cell division and activates collagen synthesis. Here we report that ceramide stimulates CREB3L1 cleavage by inverting the orientation of TM4SF20 in membranes. In the absence of ceramide, the N terminus of the first transmembrane helix of TM4SF20 is inserted into the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) lumen. This translocation requires TRAM2 (translocating chain-associated membrane protein 2), a membrane protein containing a putative ceramide-interacting domain. In the presence of ceramide, the N terminus of the first transmembrane domain of TM4SF20 is exposed to cytosol. Consequently, the membrane topology of TM4SF20 is inverted, and this form of TM4SF20 stimulates CREB3L1 cleavage. In the presence of ceramide, translocation of TM4SF20 is TRAM2-independent. We designate this mechanism-causing regulated inversion of the membrane topology as “regulated alternative translocation.”

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)567-578
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Cell
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 18 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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