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Protein Sci. 2000 Nov;9(11):2109-17.

Reversible denaturation of oligomeric human chaperonin 10: denatured state depends on chemical denaturant.

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Chemistry Department, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana 70118, USA.

Erratum in

  • Protein Sci 2000 Dec;9(12):2583.


Chaperonins cpn60/cpn10 (GroEL/GroES in Escherichia coli) assist folding of nonnative polypeptides. Folding of the chaperonins themselves is distinct in that it entails assembly of a sevenfold symmetrical structure. We have characterized denaturation and renaturation of the recombinant human chaperonin 10 (cpn10), which forms a heptamer. Denaturation induced by chemical denaturants urea and guanidine hydrochloride (GuHCl) as well as by heat was monitored by tyrosine fluorescence, far-ultraviolet circular dichroism, and cross-linking; all denaturation reactions were reversible. GuHCl-induced denaturation was found to be cpn10 concentration dependent, in accord with a native heptamer to denatured monomer transition. In contrast, urea-induced denaturation was not cpn10 concentration dependent, suggesting that under these conditions cpn10 heptamers denature without dissociation. There were no indications of equilibrium intermediates, such as folded monomers, in either denaturant. The different cpn10 denatured states observed in high [GuHCl] and high [urea] were supported by cross-linking experiments. Thermal denaturation revealed that monomer and heptamer reactions display the same enthalpy change (per monomer), whereas the entropy-increase is significantly larger for the heptamer. A thermodynamic cycle for oligomeric cpn10, combining chemical denaturation with the dissociation constant in absence of denaturant, shows that dissociated monomers are only marginally stable (3 kJ/mol). The thermodynamics for co-chaperonin stability appears conserved; therefore, instability of the monomer could be necessary to specify the native heptameric structure.

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