Cotranslational partitioning of nascent prion protein into multiple populations at the translocation channel

Soo Jung Kim, Ramanujan S. Hegde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


The decisive events that direct a single polypeptide such as the prion protein (PrP) to be synthesized at the endoplasmic reticulum in both fully translocated and transmembrane forms are poorly understood. In this study, we demonstrate that the topological heterogeneity of PrP is determined cotranslationally, while at the translocation channel. By evaluating sequential intermediates during PrP topogenesis, we find that signal sequence-mediated initiation of translocation results in an interaction between nascent PrP and endoplasmic reticulum chaperones, committing the N terminus to the lumen. Synthesis of the transmembrane domain before completion of this step allows it to direct the generation of CtmPrP, a transmembrane form with its N terminus in the cytosol. Thus, segregation of nascent PrP into different topological configurations is critically dependent on the precise timing of signal-mediated initiation of N-terminus translocation. Consequently, this step could be experimentally tuned to modify PrP topogenesis, including complete reversal of the elevated CtmPrP caused by disease-associated mutations in the transmembrane domain. These results delineate the sequence of events involved in PrP biogenesis, explain the mechanism of action of CtmPrP-favoring mutations associated with neurodegenerative disease, and more generally, reveal that translocation substrates can be cotranslationally partitioned into multiple populations at the translocon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3775-3786
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular biology of the cell
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Cotranslational partitioning of nascent prion protein into multiple populations at the translocation channel'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this