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J Biol Chem. 2005 Apr 15;280(15):14395-401. Epub 2005 Feb 10.

The importance of having thermosensor control in the DnaK chaperone system.

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Biochemisches Institut der Universität Zürich, CH-8057 Zürich, Switzerland.


In addition to the sigma(32)-mediated heat shock response, the DnaK/DnaJ/GrpE molecular chaperone system of Escherichia coli directly adapts to elevated temperatures by sequestering a higher fraction of substrate. This immediate heat shock response is due to the differential temperature dependence of the activity of DnaJ, which stimulates the hydrolysis of DnaK-bound ATP, and the activity of GrpE, which facilitates ADP/ATP exchange and converts DnaK from its high-affinity ADP-liganded state into its low-affinity ATP-liganded state. GrpE acts as thermosensor with its ADP/ATP exchange activity decreasing above 40 degrees C. To assess the importance of this reversible thermal adaptation for the chaperone action of the DnaK/DnaJ/GrpE system during heat shock, we used glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase and luciferase as substrates. We compared the performance of wild-type GrpE as a component of the chaperone system with that of GrpE R40C. In this mutant, the thermosensing helices are stabilized with an intersubunit disulfide bond and its nucleotide exchange activity thus increases continuously with increasing temperature. Wild-type GrpE with intact thermosensor proved superior to GrpE R40C with desensitized thermosensor. The chaperone system with wild-type GrpE yielded not only a higher fraction of refolding-competent protein at the end of a heat shock but also protected luciferase more efficiently against inactivation during heat shock. Consistent with their differential thermal behavior, the protective effects of wild-type GrpE and GrpE R40C diverged more and more with increasing temperature. Thus, the direct thermal adaptation of the DnaK chaperone system by thermosensing GrpE is essential for efficient chaperone action during heat shock.

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