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Mol Cell. 2014 Mar 6;53(5):689-99. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2014.01.012. Epub 2014 Feb 20.

Polyphosphate is a primordial chaperone.

Author information

1
Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.
2
Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA; Cellular and Molecular Biology Program, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.
3
Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA; Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.
4
Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA; Cellular and Molecular Biology Program, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA; Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.
5
Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA; Cellular and Molecular Biology Program, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA. Electronic address: ujakob@umich.edu.

Abstract

Composed of up to 1,000 phospho-anhydride bond-linked phosphate monomers, inorganic polyphosphate (polyP) is one of the most ancient, conserved, and enigmatic molecules in biology. Here we demonstrate that polyP functions as a hitherto unrecognized chaperone. We show that polyP stabilizes proteins in vivo, diminishes the need for other chaperone systems to survive proteotoxic stress conditions, and protects a wide variety of proteins against stress-induced unfolding and aggregation. In vitro studies reveal that polyP has protein-like chaperone qualities, binds to unfolding proteins with high affinity in an ATP-independent manner, and supports their productive refolding once nonstress conditions are restored. Our results uncover a universally important function for polyP and suggest that these long chains of inorganic phosphate may have served as one of nature's first chaperones, a role that continues to the present day.

PMID:
24560923
PMCID:
PMC3996911
DOI:
10.1016/j.molcel.2014.01.012
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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