Hsp90 is a conformationally dynamic molecular chaperone known to promote the folding and activation of a broad array of protein substrates ("clients"). Hsp90 is believed to preferentially interact with partially folded substrates, and it has been hypothesized that the chaperone can significantly alter substrate structure as a mechanism to alter the substrate functional state. However, critically testing the mechanism of substrate recognition and remodeling by Hsp90 has been challenging. Using a partially folded protein as a model system, we find that the bacterial Hsp90 adapts its conformation to the substrate, forming a binding site that spans the middle and C-terminal domains of the chaperone. Cross-linking and NMR measurements indicate that Hsp90 binds to a large partially folded region of the substrate and significantly alters both its local and long-range structure. These findings implicate Hsp90's conformational dynamics in its ability to bind and remodel partially folded proteins. Moreover, native-state hydrogen exchange indicates that Hsp90 can also interact with partially folded states only transiently populated from within a thermodynamically stable, native-state ensemble. These results suggest a general mechanism by which Hsp90 can recognize and remodel native proteins by binding and remodeling partially folded states that are transiently sampled from within the native ensemble.
Keywords: Hsp90; HtpG; chaperone; protein folding.
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