The AAA+ superfamily: a review of the structural and mechanistic principles of these molecular machines

Crit Rev Biochem Mol Biol. 2021 Oct 11;1-32. doi: 10.1080/10409238.2021.1979460. Online ahead of print.


ATPases associated with diverse cellular activities (AAA+ proteins) are a superfamily of proteins found throughout all domains of life. The hallmark of this family is a conserved AAA+ domain responsible for a diverse range of cellular activities. Typically, AAA+ proteins transduce chemical energy from the hydrolysis of ATP into mechanical energy through conformational change, which can drive a variety of biological processes. AAA+ proteins operate in a variety of cellular contexts with diverse functions including disassembly of SNARE proteins, protein quality control, DNA replication, ribosome assembly, and viral replication. This breadth of function illustrates both the importance of AAA+ proteins in health and disease and emphasizes the importance of understanding conserved mechanisms of chemo-mechanical energy transduction. This review is divided into three major portions. First, the core AAA+ fold is presented. Next, the seven different clades of AAA+ proteins and structural details and reclassification pertaining to proteins in each clade are described. Finally, two well-known AAA+ proteins, NSF and its close relative p97, are reviewed in detail.

Keywords: ATP; ATPase AAA+; NSF (N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive-factor); P-loop; Sec18; Walker A; Walker B.