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Cell Stress Chaperones. 2003 Fall;8(3):218-24.

GrpE, a nucleotide exchange factor for DnaK.

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Boston Biomedical Research Institute, 64 Grove Street, Watertown, MA 02472, USA.


The cochaperone GrpE functions as a nucleotide exchange factor to promote dissociation of adenosine 5'-diphosphate (ADP) from the nucleotide-binding cleft of DnaK. GrpE and the DnaJ cochaperone act in concert to control the flux of unfolded polypeptides into and out of the substrate-binding domain of DnaK by regulating the nucleotide-bound state of DnaK. DnaJ stimulates nucleotide hydrolysis, and GrpE promotes the exchange of ADP for adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and also augments peptide release from the DnaK substrate-binding domain in an ATP-independent manner. The eukaryotic cytosol does not contain GrpE per se because GrpE-like function is provided by the BAG1 protein, which acts as a nucleotide exchange factor for cytosolic Hsp70s. GrpE, which plays a prominent role in mitochondria, chloroplasts, and bacterial cytoplasms, is a fascinating molecule with an unusual quaternary structure. The long alpha-helices of GrpE have been hypothesized to act as a thermosensor and to be involved in the decrease in GrpE-dependent nucleotide exchange that is observed in vitro at temperatures relevant to heat shock. This review describes the molecular biology of GrpE and focuses on the structural and kinetic aspects of nucleotide exchange, peptide release, and the thermosensor hypothesis.

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