We have studied the interaction of the prototypical chaperonin GroEL with the prion domain of the Het-s protein using solution and solid-state NMR, electron and atomic force microscopies, and EPR. While GroEL accelerates Het-s protofibril formation by several orders of magnitude, the rate of appearance of fibrils is reduced. GroEL remains bound to Het-s throughout the aggregation process and densely decorates the fibrils at a regular spacing of ∼200 Å. GroEL binds to the Het-s fibrils via its apical domain located at the top of the large open ring. Thus, apo GroEL and bullet-shaped GroEL/GroES complexes in which only a single ring is capped by GroES interact with the Het-s fibrils; no evidence is seen for any interaction with football-shaped GroEL/GroES complexes in which both rings are capped by GroES. EPR spectroscopy shows that rotational motion of a nitroxide spin label, placed at the N-terminal end of the first β-strand of Het-s fibrils, is significantly reduced in both Het-s/GroEL aggregates and Het-s fibrils, but virtually completely eliminated in Het-s/GroEL fibrils, suggesting that in the latter, GroEL may come into close proximity to the nitroxide label. Solid-state NMR measurements indicate that GroEL binds to the mobile regions of the Het-s fibril comprising the N-terminal tail and a loop connecting β-strands 4 and 5, consistent with interactions involving GroEL binding consensus sequences located therein.
Keywords: EPR; NMR; amyloid–chaperone interactions; atomic force microscopy; electron microscopy.