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Cell. 1997 Aug 8;90(3):491-500.

In vivo observation of polypeptide flux through the bacterial chaperonin system.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Cellular Biochemistry and Biophysics Program, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021, USA.


The quantitative contribution of chaperonin GroEL to protein folding in E. coli was analyzed. A diverse set of newly synthesized polypeptides, predominantly between 10-55 kDa, interacts with GroEL, accounting for 10%-15% of all cytoplasmic protein under normal growth conditions, and for 30% or more upon exposure to heat stress. Most proteins leave GroEL rapidly within 10-30 s. We distinguish three classes of substrate proteins: (I) proteins with a chaperonin-independent folding pathway; (II) proteins, more than 50% of total, with an intermediate chaperonin dependence for which normally only a small fraction transits GroEL; and (III) a set of highly chaperonin-dependent proteins, many of which dissociate slowly from GroEL and probably require sequestration of aggregation-sensitive intermediates within the GroEL cavity for successful folding.

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