Folding and assembly of the large molecular machine Hsp90 studied in single-molecule experiments.
ABSTRACT: Folding of small proteins often occurs in a two-state manner and is well understood both experimentally and theoretically. However, many proteins are much larger and often populate misfolded states, complicating their folding process significantly. Here we study the complete folding and assembly process of the 1,418 amino acid, dimeric chaperone Hsp90 using single-molecule optical tweezers. Although the isolated C-terminal domain shows two-state folding, we find that the isolated N-terminal as well as the middle domain populate ensembles of fast-forming, misfolded states. These intradomain misfolds slow down folding by an order of magnitude. Modeling folding as a competition between productive and misfolding pathways allows us to fully describe the folding kinetics. Beyond intradomain misfolding, folding of the full-length protein is further slowed by the formation of interdomain misfolds, suggesting that with growing chain lengths, such misfolds will dominate folding kinetics. Interestingly, we find that small stretching forces applied to the chain can accelerate folding by preventing the formation of cross-domain misfolding intermediates by leading the protein along productive pathways to the native state. The same effect is achieved by cotranslational folding at the ribosome in vivo.
Project description:Recent single molecule experiments, using either atomic force microscopy (AFM) or Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) have shown that multidomain proteins containing tandem repeats may form stable misfolded structures. Topology-based simulation models have been used successfully to generate models for these structures with domain-swapped features, fully consistent with the available data. However, it is also known that some multidomain protein folds exhibit no evidence for misfolding, even when adjacent domains have identical sequences. Here we pose the question: what factors influence the propensity of a given fold to undergo domain-swapped misfolding? Using a coarse-grained simulation model, we can reproduce the known propensities of multidomain proteins to form domain-swapped misfolds, where data is available. Contrary to what might be naively expected based on the previously described misfolding mechanism, we find that the extent of misfolding is not determined by the relative folding rates or barrier heights for forming the domains present in the initial intermediates leading to folded or misfolded structures. Instead, it appears that the propensity is more closely related to the relative stability of the domains present in folded and misfolded intermediates. We show that these findings can be rationalized if the folded and misfolded domains are part of the same folding funnel, with commitment to one structure or the other occurring only at a relatively late stage of folding. Nonetheless, the results are still fully consistent with the kinetic models previously proposed to explain misfolding, with a specific interpretation of the observed rate coefficients. Finally, we investigate the relation between interdomain linker length and misfolding, and propose a simple alchemical model to predict the propensity for domain-swapped misfolding of multidomain proteins.
Project description:The ATP-dependent Hsp70 chaperones (DnaK in E. coli) mediate protein folding in cooperation with J proteins and nucleotide exchange factors (E. coli DnaJ and GrpE, respectively). The Hsp70 system prevents protein aggregation and increases folding yields. Whether it also enhances the rate of folding remains unclear. Here we show that DnaK/DnaJ/GrpE accelerate the folding of the multi-domain protein firefly luciferase (FLuc) ~20-fold over the rate of spontaneous folding measured in the absence of aggregation. Analysis by single-pair FRET and hydrogen/deuterium exchange identified inter-domain misfolding as the cause of slow folding. DnaK binding expands the misfolded region and thereby resolves the kinetically-trapped intermediates, with folding occurring upon GrpE-mediated release. In each round of release DnaK commits a fraction of FLuc to fast folding, circumventing misfolding. We suggest that by resolving misfolding and accelerating productive folding, the bacterial Hsp70 system can maintain proteins in their native states under otherwise denaturing stress conditions.
Project description:Neurodegenerative disorders are strongly linked to protein misfolding, and crucial to their explication is a detailed understanding of the underlying structural rearrangements and pathways that govern the formation of misfolded states. Here we use single-molecule optical tweezers to monitor misfolding reactions of the human neuronal calcium sensor-1, a multispecific EF-hand protein involved in neurotransmitter release and linked to severe neurological diseases. We directly observed two misfolding trajectories leading to distinct kinetically trapped misfolded conformations. Both trajectories originate from an on-pathway intermediate state and compete with native folding in a calcium-dependent manner. The relative probability of the different trajectories could be affected by modulating the relaxation rate of applied force, demonstrating an unprecedented real-time control over the free-energy landscape of a protein. Constant-force experiments in combination with hidden Markov analysis revealed the free-energy landscape of the misfolding transitions under both physiological and pathological calcium concentrations. Remarkably for a calcium sensor, we found that higher calcium concentrations increased the lifetimes of the misfolded conformations, slowing productive folding to the native state. We propose a rugged, multidimensional energy landscape for neuronal calcium sensor-1 and speculate on a direct link between protein misfolding and calcium dysregulation that could play a role in neurodegeneration.
Project description:Neighbouring domains of multidomain proteins with homologous tandem repeats have divergent sequences, probably as a result of evolutionary pressure to avoid misfolding and aggregation, particularly at the high cellular protein concentrations. Here we combine microfluidic-mixing single-molecule kinetics, ensemble experiments and molecular simulations to investigate how misfolding between the immunoglobulin-like domains of titin is prevented. Surprisingly, we find that during refolding of tandem repeats, independent of sequence identity, more than half of all molecules transiently form a wide range of misfolded conformations. Simulations suggest that a large fraction of these misfolds resemble an intramolecular amyloid-like state reported in computational studies. However, for naturally occurring neighbours with low sequence identity, these transient misfolds disappear much more rapidly than for identical neighbours. We thus propose that evolutionary sequence divergence between domains is required to suppress the population of long-lived, potentially harmful misfolded states, whereas large populations of transient misfolded states appear to be tolerated.
Project description:Protein misfolding in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) contributes to the pathogenesis of many diseases. Although oxidative stress can disrupt protein folding, how protein misfolding and oxidative stress impact each other has not been explored. We have analyzed expression of coagulation factor VIII (FVIII), the protein deficient in hemophilia A, to elucidate the relationship between protein misfolding and oxidative stress. Newly synthesized FVIII misfolds in the ER lumen, activates the unfolded protein response (UPR), causes oxidative stress, and induces apoptosis in vitro and in vivo in mice. Strikingly, antioxidant treatment reduces UPR activation, oxidative stress, and apoptosis, and increases FVIII secretion in vitro and in vivo. The findings indicate that reactive oxygen species are a signal generated by misfolded protein in the ER that cause UPR activation and cell death. Genetic or chemical intervention to reduce reactive oxygen species improves protein folding and cell survival and may provide an avenue to treat and/or prevent diseases of protein misfolding.
Project description:Newly synthesized proteins must form their native structures in the crowded environment of the cell, while avoiding non-native conformations that can lead to aggregation. Yet, remarkably little is known about the progressive folding of polypeptide chains during chain synthesis by the ribosome or of the influence of this folding environment on productive folding in vivo. P22 tailspike is a homotrimeric protein that is prone to aggregation via misfolding of its central beta-helix domain in vitro. We have produced stalled ribosome:tailspike nascent chain complexes of four fixed lengths in vivo, in order to assess cotranslational folding of newly synthesized tailspike chains as a function of chain length. Partially synthesized, ribosome-bound nascent tailspike chains populate stable conformations with some native-state structural features even prior to the appearance of the entire beta-helix domain, regardless of the presence of the chaperone trigger factor, yet these conformations are distinct from the conformations of released, refolded tailspike truncations. These results suggest that organization of the aggregation-prone beta-helix domain occurs cotranslationally, prior to chain release, to a conformation that is distinct from the accessible energy minimum conformation for the truncated free chain in solution.
Project description:A large range of debilitating medical conditions is linked to protein misfolding, which may compete with productive folding particularly in proteins containing multiple domains. Seventy-five per cent of the eukaryotic proteome consists of multidomain proteins, yet it is not understood how interdomain misfolding is avoided. It has been proposed that maintaining low sequence identity between covalently linked domains is a mechanism to avoid misfolding. Here we use single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer to detect and quantify rare misfolding events in tandem immunoglobulin domains from the I band of titin under native conditions. About 5.5 per cent of molecules with identical domains misfold during refolding in vitro and form an unexpectedly stable state with an unfolding half-time of several days. Tandem arrays of immunoglobulin-like domains in humans show significantly lower sequence identity between neighbouring domains than between non-adjacent domains. In particular, the sequence identity of neighbouring domains has been found to be preferentially below 40 per cent. We observe no misfolding for a tandem of naturally neighbouring domains with low sequence identity (24 per cent), whereas misfolding occurs between domains that are 42 per cent identical. Coarse-grained molecular simulations predict the formation of domain-swapped structures that are in excellent agreement with the observed transfer efficiency of the misfolded species. We infer that the interactions underlying misfolding are very specific and result in a sequence-specific domain-swapping mechanism. Diversifying the sequence between neighbouring domains seems to be a successful evolutionary strategy to avoid misfolding in multidomain proteins.
Project description:Protein misfolding is a ubiquitous phenomenon associated with a wide range of diseases. Single-molecule approaches offer a powerful tool for deciphering the mechanisms of misfolding by measuring the conformational fluctuations of a protein with high sensitivity. We applied single-molecule force spectroscopy to observe directly the misfolding of the prion protein PrP, a protein notable for having an infectious misfolded state that is able to propagate by recruiting natively folded PrP. By measuring folding trajectories of single PrP molecules held under tension in a high-resolution optical trap, we found that the native folding pathway involves only two states, without evidence for partially folded intermediates that have been proposed to mediate misfolding. Instead, frequent but fleeting transitions were observed into off-pathway intermediates. Three different misfolding pathways were detected, all starting from the unfolded state. Remarkably, the misfolding rate was even higher than the rate for native folding. A mutant PrP with higher aggregation propensity showed increased occupancy of some of the misfolded states, suggesting these states may act as intermediates during aggregation. These measurements of individual misfolding trajectories demonstrate the power of single-molecule approaches for characterizing misfolding directly by mapping out nonnative folding pathways.
Project description:Protein misfolding has been implicated in a large number of diseases termed protein- folding disorders (PFDs), which include Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, familial amyloid polyneuropathy, Huntington's disease, and type II diabetes. In these diseases, large quantities of incorrectly folded proteins undergo aggregation, destroying brain cells and other tissues. The interplay between ligand binding and hydration is an important component of the formation of misfolded protein species. Hydration drives various biological processes, including protein folding, ligand binding, macromolecular assembly, enzyme kinetics, and signal transduction. The changes in hydration and packing, both when proteins fold correctly or when folding goes wrong, leading to PFDs, are examined through several biochemical, biophysical, and structural approaches. Although in many cases the binding of a ligand such as a nucleic acid helps to prevent misfolding and aggregation, there are several examples in which ligands induce misfolding and assembly into amyloids. This occurs simply because the formation of structured aggregates (such as protofibrillar and fibrillar amyloids) involves decreases in hydration, formation of a hydrogen-bond network in the secondary structure, and burying of nonpolar amino acid residues, processes that also occur in the normal folding landscape. In this Account, we describe the present knowledge of the folding and misfolding of different proteins, with a detailed emphasis on mammalian prion protein (PrP) and tumoral suppressor protein p53; we also explore how ligand binding and hydration together influence the fate of the proteins. Anfinsen's paradigm that the structure of a protein is determined by its amino acid sequence is to some extent contradicted by the observation that there are two isoforms of the prion protein with the same sequence: the cellular and the misfolded isoform. The cellular isoform of PrP has a disordered N-terminal domain and a highly flexible, not-well-packed C-terminal domain, which might account for its significant hydration. When PrP binds to biological molecules, such as glycosaminoglycans and nucleic acids, the disordered segments appear to fold and become less hydrated. Formation of the PrP-nucleic acid complex seems to accelerate the conversion of the cellular form of the protein into the disease-causing isoform. For p53, binding to some ligands, including nucleic acids, would prevent misfolding of the protein. Recently, several groups have begun to analyze the folding-misfolding of the individual domains of p53, but several questions remain unanswered. We discuss the implications of these findings for understanding the productive and incorrect folding pathways of these proteins in normal physiological states and in human disease, such as prion disorders and cancer. These studies are shown to lay the groundwork for the development of new drugs.
Project description:The P5abc peripheral element stabilizes the Tetrahymena group I ribozyme and enhances its catalytic activity. Despite its beneficial effects on the native structure, prior studies have shown that early formation of P5abc structure during folding can slow later folding steps. Here we use a P5abc deletion variant E(deltaP5abc) to systematically probe the role of P5abc throughout tertiary folding. Time-resolved hydroxyl radical footprinting shows that E(deltaP5abc) forms its earliest stable tertiary structure on the millisecond time scale, approximately 5-fold faster than the wild-type ribozyme, and stable structure spreads throughout E(deltaP5abc) in seconds. Nevertheless, activity measurements show that the earliest detectable formation of native E(deltaP5abc) ribozyme is much slower (approximately 0.6 min(-1)), in a manner similar to that of the wild type. Also similar, only a small fraction of E(deltaP5abc) attains the native state on this time scale under standard conditions at 25 degrees C, whereas the remainder misfolds; footprinting experiments show that the misfolded conformer shares structural features with the long-lived misfolded conformer of the wild-type ribozyme. Thus, P5abc does not have a large overall effect on the rate-limiting step(s) along this pathway. However, once misfolded, E(deltaP5abc) refolds to the native state 80-fold faster than the wild-type ribozyme and is less accelerated by urea, indicating that P5abc stabilizes the misfolded structure relative to the less-ordered transition state for refolding. Together, the results suggest that, under these conditions, even the earliest tertiary folding intermediates of the wild-type ribozyme represent misfolded species and that P5abc is principally a liability during the tertiary folding process.