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EMBO J. 2000 Feb 15;19(4):741-8.

Hsp15: a ribosome-associated heat shock protein.

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Department of Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1048, USA.


We are analyzing highly conserved heat shock genes of unknown or unclear function with the aim of determining their cellular role. Hsp15 has previously been shown to be an abundant nucleic acid-binding protein whose synthesis is induced massively at the RNA level upon temperature upshift. We have now identified that the in vivo target of Hsp15 action is the free 50S ribosomal subunit. Hsp15 binds with very high affinity (K(D) <5 nM) to this subunit, but only when 50S is free, not when it is part of the 70S ribosome. In addition, the binding of Hsp15 appears to correlate with a specific state of the mature, free 50S subunit, which contains bound nascent chain. This provides the first evidence for a so far unrecognized abortive event in translation. Hsp15 is suggested to be involved in the recycling of free 50S subunits that still carry a nascent chain. This gives Hsp15 a very different functional role from all other heat shock proteins and points to a new aspect of translation.

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