Following the leader: bacterial protein export through the Sec pathway

Trends Microbiol. 1999 Aug;7(8):315-20. doi: 10.1016/s0966-842x(99)01555-3.


Significant strides have been made during the past 20 years in our understanding of protein secretion across the bacterial inner membrane. Specialized chaperones select secretory polypeptide chains and usher them to a membrane-embedded preprotein translocase. This unique molecular machine envelops the polymeric substrate and migrates along its length in defined, energy-dependent steps. Consequently, preproteins are gradually pumped into the periplasm where they acquire their native, folded conformation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism*
  • Bacteria / growth & development
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli Proteins*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins*
  • Protein Folding*
  • Protein Precursors / metabolism
  • SEC Translocation Channels
  • SecA Proteins


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Protein Precursors
  • SEC Translocation Channels
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases
  • SecA Proteins