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Cell. 1996 Oct 18;87(2):241-51.

The chaperonin ATPase cycle: mechanism of allosteric switching and movements of substrate-binding domains in GroEL.

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Department of Crystallography, Birkbeck College, University of London, United Kingdom.


Chaperonin-assisted protein folding proceeds through cycles of ATP binding and hydrolysis by the large chaperonin GroEL, which undergoes major allosteric rearrangements. Interaction between the two back-to-back seven-membered rings of GroEL plays an important role in regulating binding and release of folding substrates and of the small chaperonin GroES. Using cryo-electron microscopy, we have obtained three-dimensional reconstructions to 30 A resolution for GroEL and GroEL-GroES complexes in the presence of ADP, ATP, and the nonhydrolyzable ATP analog, AMP-PNP. Nucleotide binding to the equatorial domains of GroEL causes large rotations of the apical domains, containing the GroES and substrate protein-binding sites. We propose a mechanism for allosteric switching and describe conformational changes that may be involved in critical steps of folding for substrates encapsulated by GroES.

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