Distinct actions of cis and trans ATP within the double ring of the chaperonin GroEL. Academic Article uri icon


  • The chaperonin GroEL is a double-ring structure with a central cavity in each ring that provides an environment for the efficient folding of proteins when capped by the co-chaperone GroES in the presence of adenine nucleotides. Productive folding of the substrate rhodanese has been observed in cis ternary complexes, where GroES and polypeptide are bound to the same ring, formed with either ATP, ADP or non-hydrolysable ATP analogues, suggesting that the specific requirement for ATP is confined to an action in the trans ring that evicts GroES and polypeptide from the cis side. We show here, however, that for the folding of malate dehydrogenase and Rubisco there is also an absolute requirement for ATP in the cis ring, as ADP and AMP-PNP are unable to promote folding. We investigated the specific roles of binding and hydrolysis of ATP in the cis and trans rings using mutant forms of GroEL that bind ATP but are defective in its hydrolysis. Binding of ATP and GroES in cis initiated productive folding inside a highly stable GroEL-ATP-GroES complex. To discharge GroES and polypeptide, ATP hydrolysis in the cis ring was required to form a GroEL-ADP-GroES complex with decreased stability, priming the cis complex for release by ATP binding (without hydrolysis) in the trans ring. These observations offer an explanation of why GroEL functions as a double-ring complex.

published proceedings

  • Nature

author list (cited authors)

  • Rye, H. S., Burston, S. G., Fenton, W. A., Beechem, J. M., Xu, Z., Sigler, P. B., & Horwich, A. L.

citation count

  • 356

complete list of authors

  • Rye, HS||Burston, SG||Fenton, WA||Beechem, JM||Xu, Z||Sigler, PB||Horwich, AL

publication date

  • January 1997

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