A secretion-enhancing cis regulatory targeting element (SECReTE) involved in mRNA localization and protein synthesis

Osnat Cohen-Zontag, Camila Baez, Lisha Qiu Jin Lim, Tsviya Olender, Dvir Schirman, Dvir Dahary, Yitzhak Pilpel, Jeffrey E. Gerst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The localization of mRNAs encoding secreted/membrane proteins (mSMPs) to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) likely facilitates the co-translational translocation of secreted proteins. However, studies have shown that mSMP recruitment to the ER in eukaryotes can occur in a manner that is independent of the ribosome, translational control, and the signal recognition particle, although the mechanism remains largely unknown. Here, we identify a cis-acting RNA sequence motif that enhances mSMP localization to the ER and appears to increase mRNA stability, and both the synthesis and secretion of secretome proteins. Termed SECReTE, for secretion-enhancing cis regulatory targeting element, this motif is enriched in mRNAs encoding secretome proteins translated on the ER in eukaryotes and on the inner membrane of prokaryotes. SECReTE consists of >= 10 nucleotide triplet repeats enriched with pyrimidine (C/U) every third base (i.e. NNY, where N = any nucleotide, Y = pyrimidine) and can be present in the untranslated as well as the coding regions of the mRNA. Synonymous mutations that elevate the SECReTE count in a given mRNA (e.g. SUC2, HSP150, and CCW12) lead to an increase in protein secretion in yeast, while a reduction in count led to less secretion and physiological defects. Moreover, the addition of SECReTE to the 3'UTR of an mRNA for an exogenously expressed protein (e.g. GFP) led to its increased secretion from yeast cells. Thus, SECReTE constitutes a novel RNA motif that facilitates ER-localized mRNA translation and protein secretion.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1008248
Number of pages36
JournalPLoS Genetics
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2019


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