Enzymatically active mammalian rhodanese, a mitochondrial matrix enzyme, which has been found to require assistants for efficient refolding in vitro, has been synthesized from a plasmid in a cell-free, fractionated, coupled transcription/translation system derived from Escherichia coli. The bacterial chaperonins, GroEL and GroES, along with the rhodanese substrate thiosulfate greatly enhance the specific enzymatic activity of the rhodanese polypeptide that is formed. Indirect evidence suggests that the effect of the GroEL/ES chaperonins is on ribosome-bound nascent peptides. The in vitro transcription/translation system produces sufficient amounts of rhodanese to provide a system for studying factors that control the initial steps in folding of nascent proteins.
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