Operon structure and cotranslational subunit association direct protein assembly in bacteria
Authors: Shieh YW, Minguez P, Bork P, Auburger JJ, Guilbride DL, Kramer G, Bukau B
CellNetworks People: Bork Peer, Bukau Bernd
Journal: Science. 2015 Nov 6;350(6261):678-80. doi: 10.1126/science.aac8171

Assembly of protein complexes is considered a posttranslational process involving random collision of subunits. We show that within the Escherichia coli cytosol, bacterial luciferase subunits LuxA and LuxB assemble into complexes close to the site of subunit synthesis. Assembly efficiency decreases markedly if subunits are synthesized on separate messenger RNAs from genes integrated at distant chromosomal sites. Subunit assembly initiates cotranslationally on nascent LuxB in vivo. The ribosome-associated chaperone trigger factor delays the onset of cotranslational interactions until the LuxB dimer interface is fully exposed. Protein assembly is thus directly coupled to the translation process and involves spatially confined, actively chaperoned cotranslational subunit interactions. Bacterial gene organization into operons therefore reflects a fundamental cotranslational mechanism for spatial and temporal regulation that is vital to effective assembly of protein complexes.