Deletion analysis of the C-terminal region of a molecular chaperone DnaK from Bacillus licheniformis
The first discovery of an Hsp70 chaperone gene was the isolation of an Escherichia coli mutant, dnaK756, which rendered the cells resistant to lytic infection with bacteriophage lambda. The DnaK756 mutant protein has since been used to establish many of the cellular roles and biochemical properties of DnaK. DnaK756 has three glycine-to-aspartate substitutions at residues 32, 455, and 468, which were reported to result in defects in intrinsic and GrpE-stimulated ATPase activities, substrate binding, stability of the substrate-binding domain, interdomain communication, and, consequently, defects in chaperone activity. To dissect the effects of the different amino acid substitutions in DnaK756, we analyzed two DnaK variants carrying only the amino-terminal (residue 32) or the two carboxyl-terminal (residues 455 and 468) substitutions. The amino-terminal substitution interfered with the GrpE-stimulated ATPase activity. The carboxyl-terminal mutations (i) affected stability and function of the substrate-binding domain, (ii) caused a 10-fold elevated ATP hydrolysis rate, but (iii) did not severely affect domain coupling. Surprisingly, DnaK chaperone activity was more severely compromised by the amino-terminal than by the carboxyl-terminal amino acid substitutions both in vivo and in vitro. In the in vitro refolding of denatured firefly luciferase, the defect of the DnaK variant carrying the amino-terminal substitution results from its inability to release, upon GrpE-mediated nucleotide exchange, bound luciferase in a folding competent state. Our results indicate that the DnaK-DnaJ-GrpE chaperone system can tolerate suboptimal substrate binding, whereas the tight kinetic control of substrate dissociation by GrpE is essential.