The Sec61 protein is required for protein translocation across the ER membrane in both yeast and mammals and is found in close association with polypeptides during their membrane transit. In Saccharomyces cerevisiae Sec61p is essential for viability and the extent of sequence similarity between the yeast and mammalian proteins (55% sequence identity) suggests that the role of Sec61p in the translocation mechanism is likely to be conserved. In order to further our understanding of the structure and function of Sec61p we have cloned homologues from both Schizosaccharomyces pombe and Yarrowia lipolytica. The S. pombe gene comprises six exons encoding a 479 residue protein which we have immunolocalised to the endoplasmic reticulum. Sequence comparisons reveal that S. pombe Sec61p is 58.6% identical to that of S. cerevisiae. The deduced amino acid sequence of the Y. lipolytica protein shares 68.8% sequence identity with S. cerevisiae Sec61p. Gene disruption studies have shown that the SEC61 is required for viability in both S. pombe and Y. lipolytica demonstrating that the essential nature of this protein is not unique to S. cerevisiae. Moreover, heterologous complementation studies indicate that the Y. lipolytica SEC61 gene can complement a null mutation in S. cerevisiae. Sequence comparisons between the various eukaryotic Sec61p homologues reveal a number of highly conserved domains, including several transmembrane sequences and the majority of cytosolic loops. These comparisons will provide an important framework for the detailed analysis of interactions between Sec61p and other components of the translocation machinery and between Sec61p and translocating polypeptide chains.
- © 1997 by Company of Biologists