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Physiol Rev. 1999 Apr;79(2):425-49.

Chaperone-mediated protein folding.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, The University of California, Santa Cruz, California, USA.


The folding of most newly synthesized proteins in the cell requires the interaction of a variety of protein cofactors known as molecular chaperones. These molecules recognize and bind to nascent polypeptide chains and partially folded intermediates of proteins, preventing their aggregation and misfolding. There are several families of chaperones; those most involved in protein folding are the 40-kDa heat shock protein (HSP40; DnaJ), 60-kDa heat shock protein (HSP60; GroEL), and 70-kDa heat shock protein (HSP70; DnaK) families. The availability of high-resolution structures has facilitated a more detailed understanding of the complex chaperone machinery and mechanisms, including the ATP-dependent reaction cycles of the GroEL and HSP70 chaperones. For both of these chaperones, the binding of ATP triggers a critical conformational change leading to release of the bound substrate protein. Whereas the main role of the HSP70/HSP40 chaperone system is to minimize aggregation of newly synthesized proteins, the HSP60 chaperones also facilitate the actual folding process by providing a secluded environment for individual folding molecules and may also promote the unfolding and refolding of misfolded intermediates.

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