A unifying model for membrane protein biogenesis

Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2024 May 29. doi: 10.1038/s41594-024-01296-5. Online ahead of print.


α-Helical integral membrane proteins comprise approximately 25% of the proteome in all organisms. The membrane proteome is highly diverse, varying in the number, topology, spacing and properties of transmembrane domains. This diversity imposes different constraints on the insertion of different regions of a membrane protein into the lipid bilayer. Here, we present a cohesive framework to explain membrane protein biogenesis, in which different parts of a nascent substrate are triaged between Oxa1 and SecY family members for insertion. In this model, Oxa1 family proteins insert transmembrane domains flanked by short translocated segments, whereas the SecY channel is required for insertion of transmembrane domains flanked by long translocated segments. Our unifying model rationalizes evolutionary, genetic, biochemical and structural data across organisms and provides a foundation for future mechanistic studies of membrane protein biogenesis.

Publication types

  • Review