Chaperone activity and structure of monomeric polypeptide binding domains of groEL

Ralph Zahn, Ashley M. Buckle, Sarah Perrett, Christopher M. Johnson, Fernando J. Corrales, Ralph Golbik, Alan R. Fersht

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132 Citations (Scopus)


The chaperonin GroEL is a large complex composed of 14 identical 57-kDa subunits that requires ATP and GroES for some of its activities. We find that a monomeric polypeptide corresponding to residues 191 to 345 has the activity of the tetradecamer both in facilitating the refolding of rhodanese and cyclophilin A in the absence of ATP and in catalyzing the unfolding of native barnase. Its crystal structure, solved at 2.5 Å resolution, shows a well- ordered domain with the same fold as in intact GroEL. We have thus isolated the active site of the complex allosteric molecular chaperone, which functions as a 'minichaperone.' This has mechanistic implications: the presence of a central cavity in the GroEL complex is not essential for those representative activities in vitro, and neither are the allosteric properties. The function of the allosteric behavior on the binding of GroES and ATP must be to regulate the affinity of the protein for its various substrates in vivo, where the cavity may also be required for special functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15024-15029
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number26
Publication statusPublished - 24 Dec 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • barnase
  • cpn60
  • hsp60
  • minichaperone
  • protein folding

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