Functions and Mechanisms of the Human Ribosome-Translocon Complex

  • Sven LangEmail author
  • Duy Nguyen
  • Stefan Pfeffer
  • Friedrich Förster
  • Volkhard Helms
  • Richard Zimmermann
Part of the Subcellular Biochemistry book series (SCBI, volume 93)


The membrane of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) in human cells harbors the protein translocon, which facilitates membrane insertion and translocation of almost every newly synthesized polypeptide targeted to organelles of the secretory pathway. The translocon comprises the polypeptide-conducting Sec61 channel and several additional proteins, which are associated with the heterotrimeric Sec61 complex. This ensemble of proteins facilitates ER targeting of precursor polypeptides, Sec61 channel opening and closing, and modification of precursor polypeptides in transit through the Sec61 complex. Recently, cryoelectron tomography of translocons in native ER membranes has given unprecedented insights into the architecture and dynamics of the native, ribosome-associated translocon and the Sec61 channel. These structural data are discussed in light of different Sec61 channel activities including ribosome receptor function, membrane insertion or translocation of newly synthesized polypeptides as well as the possible roles of the Sec61 channel as a passive ER calcium leak channel and regulator of ATP/ADP exchange between cytosol and ER.


Endoplasmic reticulum Membrane protein biogenesis Protein secretion Protein targeting Protein translocation Sec61 channel 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sven Lang
    • 1
    Email author
  • Duy Nguyen
    • 2
  • Stefan Pfeffer
    • 3
    • 4
  • Friedrich Förster
    • 3
    • 5
  • Volkhard Helms
    • 2
  • Richard Zimmermann
    • 1
  1. 1.Competence Center for Molecular MedicineSaarland University Medical SchoolHomburgGermany
  2. 2.Center for BioinformaticsSaarland UniversitySaarbrückenGermany
  3. 3.Department of Molecular Structural BiologyMax-Planck Institute of BiochemistryMartinsriedGermany
  4. 4.ZMBHHeidelbergGermany
  5. 5.Center for Biomolecular ResearchUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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