High-throughput screen for small molecules that modulate the ATPase activity of the molecular chaperone DnaK

Anal Biochem. 2008 Jan 15;372(2):167-76. doi: 10.1016/j.ab.2007.08.020. Epub 2007 Aug 22.


DnaK is a molecular chaperone of Escherichia coli that belongs to a family of conserved 70-kDa heat shock proteins. The Hsp70 chaperones are well known for their crucial roles in regulating protein homeostasis, preventing protein aggregation, and directing subcellular traffic. Given the complexity of functions, a chemical method for controlling the activities of these chaperones might provide a useful experimental tool. However, there are only a handful of Hsp70-binding molecules known. To build this area, we developed a robust, colorimetric, high-throughput screening (HTS) method in 96-well plates that reports on the ATPase activity of DnaK. Using this approach, we screened a 204-member focused library of molecules that share a dihydropyrimidine core common to known Hsp70-binding leads and uncovered seven new inhibitors. Intriguingly, the candidates do not appear to bind the hydrophobic groove that normally interacts with peptide substrates. In sum, we have developed a reliable HTS method that will likely accelerate discovery of small molecules that modulate DnaK/Hsp70 function. Moreover, because this family of chaperones has been linked to numerous diseases, this platform might be used to generate new therapeutic leads.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / genetics
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism*
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Colorimetry
  • Escherichia coli / enzymology*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / genetics
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism*
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism*
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • GrpE protein, Bacteria
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases
  • dnaK protein, E coli