Cooperative Assembly of Hsp70 Subdomain Clusters

Biochemistry. 2018 Jul 3;57(26):3641-3649. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.8b00151. Epub 2018 May 29.


Many molecular chaperones exist as oligomeric complexes in their functional states, yet the physical determinants underlying such self-assembly behavior, as well as the role of oligomerization in the activity of molecular chaperones in inhibiting protein aggregation, have proven to be difficult to define. Here, we demonstrate direct measurements under native conditions of the changes in the average oligomer populations of a chaperone system as a function of concentration and time and thus determine the thermodynamic and kinetic parameters governing the self-assembly process. We access this self-assembly behavior in real time under native-like conditions by monitoring the changes in the micrometer-scale diffusion of the different complexes in time and space using a microfluidic platform. Using this approach, we find that the oligomerization mechanism of the Hsp70 subdomain occurs in a cooperative manner and involves structural constraints that limit the size of the species formed beyond the limits imposed by mass balance. These results illustrate the ability of microfluidic methods to probe polydisperse protein self-assembly in real time in solution and to shed light on the nature and dynamics of oligomerization processes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Diffusion
  • Equipment Design
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Lab-On-A-Chip Devices
  • Protein Domains
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Thermodynamics


  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins