Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Chair of Metabolic Biochemistry

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The alpha-helical structure of prodomains promotes translocation of intrinsically disordered neuropeptide hormones into the endoplasmic reticulum

J Biol Chem. 2013 Mar 26. [Epub ahead of print]

Authors/Editors: Dirndorfer D
Seidel RP
Nimrod G
Miesbauer M
Ben-Tal N
Engelhard M
Zimmermann R
Winklhofer KF
Publication Date: 2013
Type of Publication: Journal Article

Different neuropeptide hormones, which are either too small to adopt a stable conformation or are predicted to be intrinsically disordered, are synthesized as larger precursors containing a prodomain in addition to an N-terminal signal peptide. We analyzed the biogenesis of three unstructured neuropeptide hormones and observed that translocation of these precursors into the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is critically dependent on the presence of the prodomain. The hormone domains could be deleted from the precursors without interfering with ER import and secretion, whereas constructs lacking the prodomain remained in the cytosol. Domain-swapping experiments revealed that the activity of the prodomains to promote productive ER import resides in their ability to adopt an α-helical structure. Removal of the prodomain from the precursor did not interfere with co-translational targeting of the nascent chain to the Sec61 translocon but with its subsequent productive translocation into the ER lumen. Our study reveals a novel function of prodomains to enable import of small or intrinsically disordered secretory proteins into the ER based on their ability to adopt an α-helical conformation.

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