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Mol Microbiol. 2006 Sep;61(5):1094-100.

A camel passes through the eye of a needle: protein unfolding activity of Clp ATPases.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506, USA.


Clp ATPases are protein machines involved in protein degradation and disaggregation. The common structural feature of Clp ATPases is the formation of ring-shaped oligomers. Recent work has shown that the function of all Clp ATPases is based on an energy-dependent threading of substrates through the narrow pore at the centre of the ring. This review gives an outline of known mechanistic principles of threading machines that unfold protein substrates either before their degradation (ClpA, ClpX, HslU) or during their reactivation from aggregates (ClpB). The place of Clp ATPases within a broad AAA+ superfamily of ATPases associated with various cellular activities suggests that similar mechanisms can be used by other protein machines to induce conformational rearrangements in a wide variety of substrates.

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