Biophysical analysis of the endoplasmic reticulum-resident chaperone/heat shock protein gp96/GRP94 and its complex with peptide antigen

Biochemistry. 2001 Feb 6;40(5):1483-95. doi: 10.1021/bi0016218.


Animals vaccinated with heat shock protein (HSP)--peptide complexes develop specific protective immunity against cancers from which the HSPs were originally isolated. This autologous specific immunity has been demonstrated using a number of HSP--peptide antigen complexes. A prototypical HSP-based cancer vaccine is the gp96--peptide antigen complex, which is currently undergoing human clinical trials. Here, we analyzed the structure of a recombinant wild-type and a mutant gp96 protein and their peptide complexes using a number of biophysical techniques. Gel filtration chromatography, dynamic light scattering, and equilibrium analytical ultracentrifugation demonstrated that both a wild-type gp96 and a gp96 mutant lacking a dimerization domain formed higher order structures. More detailed analysis using scanning transmission electron microscopy indicated that both the wild-type and dimerization deletion mutant gp96 protein were organized, unexpectedly, into large aggregates. Size distributions ranged from dimers to octamers and higher. Circular dichroism and intrinsic Trp fluorescence suggested that the gp96 dimerization domain deletion mutant protein was more compact than the wild-type gp96. A fluorescent peptide antigen was synthesized, and the peptide-binding properties of wild-type and the dimerization domain deletion mutant gp96 were studied. Fluorescence lifetime and anisotropy decay showed that the bound antigenic peptide was located in a hydrophobic pocket, with considerable free space for the rotation of the probe. Deletion of the dimerization domain affected the peptide-binding microenvironment, although peptide-binding affinity was reduced by only a small extent. Peptide--gp96 complexes were extremely stable, persisting for many days in the cold. The extraordinary stability of peptide--gp96 complexes and the plasticity of the peptide-binding pocket support the proposed relay of diverse peptides to MHC and/or other molecules via molecular recognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigen Presentation
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / chemistry*
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / metabolism
  • Chromatography, Affinity
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Circular Dichroism
  • Drug Stability
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / chemistry*
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Fluorescence Polarization
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / chemistry*
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / chemistry*
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Light
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Membrane Proteins / chemistry*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Peptides / chemistry*
  • Peptides / immunology
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Protein Binding / genetics
  • Scattering, Radiation
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization
  • Ultracentrifugation


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Peptides
  • glucose-regulated proteins
  • sarcoma glycoprotein gp96 rejection antigens