The hsp90-based chaperone system: involvement in signal transduction from a variety of hormone and growth factor receptors

Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1998 Apr;217(4):420-34. doi: 10.3181/00379727-217-44252.


A variety of transcription factors and protein kinases involved in signal transduction are recovered from cells in heterocomplexes containing the abundant protein chaperone hsp90. Genetic studies in yeast have demonstrated that binding of steroid receptors, the dioxin receptor, and some protein kinases to hsp90 is critical for their signal transducing function in vivo. These heterocomplexes are formed by a multiprotein chaperone machinery consisting of at least four ubiquitous proteins--hsp90, hsp70, p60 and p23. Four high-molecular-weight immunophilins have been discovered as components of steroid receptor or other transcription factor complexes with hsp90. The immunophilins, protein chaperones with prolyl isomerase activity, bind the immunosuppressant drugs FK506 or CyP-40. These immunophilins all bind via tetratricopeptide repeat (TPR) domains to a single TPR binding site on each hsp90 dimer, and multiple heterocomplexes exist for each protein chaperoned by hsp90 according to the immunophilin that is bound to this TPR binding site at any time. Three components of the MAP kinase signalling system (Src, Raf, and Mek) exist in complexes with hsp90 and a 50-kDa protein that is the mammalian homolog of the yeast cell cycle control protein cdc37. The p50cdc37 binds to hsp90 at a site that is close to but different from the TPR binding site of the immunophilins, and like the immunophilins, p50cdc37 is thought to be involved in targeting and trafficking of the protein kinases. The recent introduction of the benzoquinone antibiotic geldanamycin has facilitated the identification of proteins that are chaperoned by the hsp90-based system. Geldanamycin binds to members of the hsp90 protein family, blocking assembly of hsp90 heterocomplexes and destabilizing preformed heterocomplexes. In the presence of geldanamycin, the function of hsp90-chaperoned proteins is disrupted, and the proteins undergo rapid degradation by an ubiquitin-dependent proteasomal mechanism. It is becoming clear that hsp90 chaperoning is not only essential to a variety of signal transduction pathways, but is critical for proper folding, stabilization, and trafficking of an expanding list of proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Chaperones / metabolism*
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Growth Factor / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Receptors, Growth Factor
  • Transcription Factors
  • Protein Kinases