Conditions of forming protein complexes with GroEL can influence the mechanism of chaperonin-assisted refolding

Boris M. Gorovits, Paul M. Horowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The interaction of GroEL with urea-unfolded dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) has been studied in the presence of DHFR substrates by investigating the ability of GroES to release enzyme under conditions where a stable GroES- GroEL-DHFR ternary complex can be formed. In these circumstances, GroES could only partially discharge the DHFR if ADP was present in the solution and approximately half of the DHFR remained bound on the chaperonin. This bound DHFR could be rescued by addition of ATP and KCl into the refolding mixture. The stable ternary complex did not show any significant protection of bound DHFR against proteolysis by Proteinase K. These results are in contrast to those observed with the GroEL-DHFR complex formed by thermal inactivation of DHFR at 45 °C in which GroES addition leads to partial protection of bound DHFR. Thus, the method of presentation influences the properties of the bound intermediates. It is suggested that the ability of GroES to bind on the same side of the GroEL double toroid as the target protein and displace it into the central cavity depends on the way the protein-substrate is presented to the GroEL molecule. Therefore, the compact folding intermediate formed by thermal unfolding can be protected against proteolysis after GroES binds to form a ternary complex. In addition, structural changes within GroEL induced by the experimental conditions may contribute to differences in the properties of the complexes. The more open urea-unfolded DHFR binds on the surface of chaperonin and can be displaced into solution by the tighter binding GroES molecule. It is suggested that the state of the unfolded protein when it is presented to GroEL determines the detailed mechanism of its assisted refolding. It follows that individual proteins, having characteristic folding intermediates, can have different detailed mechanisms of chaperonin-assisted folding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-35
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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