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Access to the article is free, however registration and sign-in are required. The translocon is an endoplasmic reticulum membrane protein that has the dual ability to insert a newly synthesized polypeptide chain into a cell membrane or secrete it across a cell membrane. This process has been exploited to assess the energetics of transmembrane -helices, as described in two recent studies by the von Heijne and White groups (published here and elsewhere). In a Perspective, MacKinnon discusses the implications of this work for membrane protein structure and function.
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