Model peptide studies demonstrate that amphipathic secondary structures can be recognized by the chaperonin GroEL (cpn60)

Bill T. Brazil, Jeffrey L. Cleland, Robert S. McDowell, Nicholas J. Skelton, Ken Paris, Paul M. Horowitz

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27 Scopus citations


The molecular chaperone cpn60 binds many unfolded proteins and facilitates their proper folding. Synthetic peptides have been used to probe the question of how cpn60 might recognize such a diverse set of unfolded proteins. Three hybrid peptides were synthesized encompassing portions of the bee venom peptide, apamin, and the sequence KWLAESVRAGK from an amphipathic helix in the NH2-terminal region of bovine rhodanese. Two disulfides connecting cysteine residues hold the peptides in stable helical conformations with unobstructed faces oriented away from the disulfides. Peptides were designed to present either a hydrophobic or hydrophilic face of the amphipathic helix that is similar to the one near the amino terminus of rhodanese. Aggregation of these peptides was detected by measuring 1,1'- bis(4-anilino)napthalene-5,5'-disulfonic acid (bisANS) fluorescence at increasing peptide concentrations, and aggregation was not apparent below 2 μM. Thus, all experiments with the peptides were performed at a concentration of 1 μM. Reducing agents cause these helical peptides to form random coils. Fluorescence anisotropy measurements of fluorescein-labeled peptide with the exposed hydrophobic face yielded a K(d) = ~106 μM for binding to cpn60, whereas there was no detectable binding of the reduced form. The peptide with the exposed hydrophilic face did not bind to cpn60 in either the oxidized or reduced states. Fluorescence experiments utilizing bisANS as a probe showed that binding of the helical hydrophobic peptide could induce the exposure of hydrophobic surfaces on cpn60, whereas the same peptide in its random coil form had no effect. Thus, binding to cpn60 is favored by a secondary structure that organizes and exposes a hydrophobic surface, a feature found in amphipathic helices. Further, the binding of a hydrophobic surface to cpn60 can induce further exposure of complementary surfaces on cpn60 complexes, thus amplifying interactions available for target proteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5105-5111
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 21 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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