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EMBO J. 1992 Jan;11(1):71-7.

Involvement of the chaperonin dnaK in the rapid degradation of a mutant protein in Escherichia coli.

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Harvard Medical School, Dept. of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Boston, MA 02115.


The ability of Escherichia coli rapidly to degrade abnormal proteins is inhibited by mutations affecting any of several heat shock proteins (hsps). We therefore tested whether a short-lived mutant protein might become associated with hsps as part of its degradation. At 30 degrees C, the non-secreted mutant form of alkaline phosphatase, phoA61, is relatively stable, and very little phoA61 is found associated with the hsp dnaK. However, raising the temperature to 37 degrees C or 41 degrees C stimulated the degradation of this protein, and up to 30% of cellular phoA61 became associated with dnaK, as shown by immunoprecipitation and Western blot analysis. Also found in complexes with phoA61 were the hsps, protease La and grpE (but no groEL, or groES). The rapid degradation of phoA61 at 37 degrees C and 41 degrees C is in part by protease La, since it decreased by 50% in lon mutants. This process also requires dnaK, since deletion of this gene prevented phoA61 degradation almost completely (unless a wild-type dnaK gene was introduced). In contrast, the missense mutation, dnaK756, enhanced phoA61 degradation. The dnaK756 protein also was associated with phoA61, but this complex, unlike that containing wild-type dnaK could not be dissociated by ATP addition. Furthermore, in a grpE mutant, the degradation of phoA61 and the amount associated with dnaK increased, while in a dnaJ mutant, phoA61 degradation and its association with dnaK decreased. Thus, complex formation with dnaK appears essential for phoA61 degradation by protease La and some other cell proteases, and a failure of the dnaK to dissociate normally may accelerate proteolytic attack.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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