Hsp70 chaperones assist protein folding through ATP-regulated transient association with substrates. Substrate binding by Hsp70 is controlled by DnaJ co-chaperones which stimulate Hsp70 to hydrolyze ATP and, consequently, to close its substrate binding cavity allowing trapping of substrates. We analyzed the interaction of the Escherichia coli Hsp70 homologue, DnaK, with DnaJ using surface plasmon resonance (SPR) spectroscopy. Resonance signals of complex kinetic characteristics were detected when DnaK was passed over a sensor chip with coupled DnaJ. This interaction was specific as it was not detected with a functionally defective DnaJ mutant protein, DnaJ259, that carries a mutation in the HPD signature motif of the conserved J-domain. Detectable DnaK-DnaJ interaction required ATP hydrolysis by DnaK and was competitively inhibited by chaperone substrates of DnaK. For DnaK mutant proteins with amino acid substitutions in the substrate binding cavity that affect substrate binding, the strength of detected interaction with DnaJ decreased proportionally with increased strength of the substrate binding defects. These findings indicate that the detected response signals resulted from DnaJ and ATP hydrolysis-dependent association of DnaJ as substrate for DnaK. Although not considered as physiologically relevant, this association allowed us to experimentally unravel the mechanism of DnaJ action. Accordingly, DnaJ stimulates ATP hydrolysis only after association of a substrate with the substrate binding cavity of DnaK. Further analysis revealed that this coupling mechanism required the J-domain of DnaJ and was also functional for natural DnaK substrates, and thus is central to the mechanism of action of the DnaK chaperone system.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.