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Nature. 1997 Aug 21;388(6644):741-50.

The crystal structure of the asymmetric GroEL-GroES-(ADP)7 chaperonin complex.

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The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06510, USA.


Chaperonins assist protein folding with the consumption of ATP. They exist as multi-subunit protein assemblies comprising rings of subunits stacked back to back. In Escherichia coli, asymmetric intermediates of GroEL are formed with the co-chaperonin GroES and nucleotides bound only to one of the seven-subunit rings (the cis ring) and not to the opposing ring (the trans ring). The structure of the GroEL-GroES-(ADP)7 complex reveals how large en bloc movements of the cis ring's intermediate and apical domains enable bound GroES to stabilize a folding chamber with ADP confined to the cis ring. Elevation and twist of the apical domains double the volume of the central cavity and bury hydrophobic peptide-binding residues in the interface with GroES, as well as between GroEL subunits, leaving a hydrophilic cavity lining that is conducive to protein folding. An inward tilt of the cis equatorial domain causes an outward tilt in the trans ring that opposes the binding of a second GroES. When combined with new functional results, this negative allosteric mechanism suggests a model for an ATP-driven folding cycle that requires a double toroid.

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