Functional significance of symmetrical versus asymmetrical GroEL-GroES chaperonin complexes

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Science  11 Aug 1995:
Vol. 269, Issue 5225, pp. 832-836
DOI: 10.1126/science.7638600


The Escherichia coli chaperonin GroEL and its regulator GroES are thought to mediate adenosine triphosphate-dependent protein folding as an asymmetrical complex, with substrate protein bound within the GroEL cylinder. In contrast, a symmetrical complex formed between one GroEL and two GroES oligomers, with substrate protein binding to the outer surface of GroEL, was recently proposed to be the functional chaperonin unit. Electron microscopic and biochemical analyses have now shown that unphysiologically high magnesium concentrations and increased pH are required to assemble symmetrical complexes, the formation of which precludes the association of unfolded polypeptide. Thus, the functional significance of GroEL:(GroES)2 particles remains to be demonstrated.