Research Articles

Atomic structure of Hsp90-Cdc37-Cdk4 reveals that Hsp90 traps and stabilizes an unfolded kinase

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Science  24 Jun 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6293, pp. 1542-1547
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf5023

Holding kinases at the ready

About 60% of kinases only reach their active state in the presence of the molecular chaperone Hsp90 and its co-chaperone Cdc37. It is unclear how the chaperones facilitate kinase function or why only some kinases are chaperone-dependent. Verba et al. determined a 3.9 Å cryo–electron microscopy structure of Hsp90:Cdc37 in complex with the kinase Cdk4. Together, Hsp90 and Cdc37 trap the kinase in an open, partially unfolded state. Taking on this state probably has direct functional benefits.

Science, this issue p. 1542


The Hsp90 molecular chaperone and its Cdc37 cochaperone help stabilize and activate more than half of the human kinome. However, both the mechanism by which these chaperones assist their “client” kinases and the reason why some kinases are addicted to Hsp90 while closely related family members are independent are unknown. Our structural understanding of these interactions is lacking, as no full-length structures of human Hsp90, Cdc37, or either of these proteins with a kinase have been elucidated. Here we report a 3.9 angstrom cryo–electron microscopy structure of the Hsp90-Cdc37-Cdk4 kinase complex. Surprisingly, the two lobes of Cdk4 are completely separated with the β4-β5 sheet unfolded. Cdc37 mimics part of the kinase N lobe, stabilizing an open kinase conformation by wedging itself between the two lobes. Finally, Hsp90 clamps around the unfolded kinase β5 strand and interacts with exposed N- and C-lobe interfaces, protecting the kinase in a trapped unfolded state. On the basis of this structure and an extensive amount of previously collected data, we propose unifying conceptual and mechanistic models of chaperone-kinase interactions.

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