Ring Separation Highlights the Protein-Folding Mechanism Used by the Phage EL-Encoded Chaperonin

Sudheer K. Molugu, Zacariah L. Hildenbrand, David Gene Morgan, Michael B. Sherman, Lilin He, Costa Georgopoulos, Natalia V. Sernova, Lidia P. Kurochkina, Vadim V. Mesyanzhinov, Konstantin A. Miroshnikov, Ricardo A. Bernal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Chaperonins are ubiquitous, ATP-dependent protein-folding molecular machines that are essential for all forms of life. Bacteriophage φEL encodes its own chaperonin to presumably fold exceedingly large viral proteins via profoundly different nucleotide-binding conformations. Our structural investigations indicate that ATP likely binds to both rings simultaneously and that a misfolded substrate acts as the trigger for ATP hydrolysis. More importantly, the φEL complex dissociates into two single rings resulting from an evolutionarily altered residue in the highly conserved ATP-binding pocket. Conformational changes also more than double the volume of the single-ring internal chamber such that larger viral proteins are accommodated. This is illustrated by the fact that φEL is capable of folding β-galactosidase, a 116-kDa protein. Collectively, the architecture and protein-folding mechanism of the φEL chaperonin are significantly different from those observed in group I and II chaperonins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)537-546
Number of pages10
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 5 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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