Heat shock protein (Hsp) 104 is a ring-forming, protein-remodeling machine that harnesses the energy of ATP binding and hydrolysis to drive protein disaggregation. Although Hsp104 is an active ATPase, the recovery of functional protein requires the species-specific cooperation of the Hsp70 system. However, like Hsp104, Hsp70 is an active ATPase, which recognizes aggregated and aggregation-prone proteins, making it difficult to differentiate the mechanistic roles of Hsp104 and Hsp70 during protein disaggregation. Mapping the Hsp70-binding sites in yeast Hsp104 using peptide array technology and photo-cross-linking revealed a striking conservation of the primary Hsp70-binding motifs on the Hsp104 middle-domain across species, despite lack of sequence identity. Remarkably, inserting a Strep-Tactin binding motif at the spatially conserved Hsp70-binding site elicits the Hsp104 protein disaggregating activity that now depends on Strep-Tactin but no longer requires Hsp70/40. Consistent with a Strep-Tactin-dependent activation step, we found that full-length Hsp70 on its own could activate the Hsp104 hexamer by promoting intersubunit coordination, suggesting that Hsp70 is an activator of the Hsp104 motor.
Keywords: ClpB; DnaK; Hsp100; molecular chaperone.