Chaperonin-mediated Folding of Viral Proteins

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2012;726:307-24. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4614-0980-9_13.


Chaperonins are universally conserved molecular machines that facilitate the proper -folding of nascent and partially folded polypeptides into their respective three-dimensional structures. These multimeric protein complexes utilize the energy derived from ATP hydrolysis to fuel a protein-folding mechanism that consists of multiple rounds of substrate binding, encapsulation, and eventual expulsion back into the cytosolic environment. In this portion of the chapter, the structure and function of group I and group II chaperonins are discussed. Furthermore, the general mechanism of chaperonin-mediated protein folding is addressed in addition to illustrating how viral phages such as Lambda, T4, and RB49 exploit the host machinery for the proper folding of viral gene products. Lastly, the phiEL chaperonin from phage EL is revealed to be the first virally encoded chaperonin and is proposed to function independently of the host chaperonin machinery. The molecular architecture of the phiEL chaperonin, coupled with its unique functional abilities, renders its characterization a challenge and further highlights its novelty as a potentially whole new class of chaperonins.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Chaperonins / metabolism*
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Folding
  • Viral Proteins / chemistry*
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism*
  • Viruses / chemistry
  • Viruses / metabolism
  • Viruses / ultrastructure


  • Viral Proteins
  • Chaperonins