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Local unfolding of the HSP27 monomer regulates chaperone activity

By T. Reid Alderson, Julien Roche, Heidi Y. Gastall, Iva Pritišanac, Jinfa Ying, Ad Bax, Justin L.P. Benesch, Andrew J. Baldwin

Posted 14 Jun 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/345751 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-08557-8)

The small heat-shock protein HSP27 is a redox-sensitive molecular chaperone that is expressed throughout the human body. Here we describe redox-induced changes to the structure, dynamics, and function of HSP27 and its conserved α-crystallin domain, and provide the first structural characterization of a small heat-shock protein monomer. While HSP27 assembles into oligomers, we show that the transiently populated monomers released upon reduction are highly active chaperones in vitro, but are kinetically unstable and susceptible to uncontrolled aggregation. By using relaxation dispersion and high-pressure nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, we reveal that the pair of β-strands that mediate dimerization become partially disordered in the monomer. Strikingly, we note that numerous HSP27 mutations associated with inherited neuropathies cluster to this unstructured region. The high degree of sequence conservation in the α-crystallin domain amongst mammalian sHSPs suggests that partially unfolded monomers may be a general, functional feature of these molecular chaperones.

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