THE proteins DnaK (hspTO) and GroEL (cpn60) fromEscherichia coli are prototypes of two classes of molecular chaperones conser-ved throughout evolution1. The analysis of transferred nuclear Overhauser effects in two-dimensional NMR spectra is ideally suited to determine chaperone-bound conformations of peptides2. The peptide vsv-C (amino-acid sequence KLIGVLSSLFRPK) stimulates the ATPase of BiP and Hsc70 (ref. 3) and the intrinsic ATPase of DnaK. The affinity of the vsv-C peptide for DnaK is greatly reduced in the presence of ATP. Here we analyse transferred nuclear Overhauser effects and show that the peptide is in an extended conformation while bound to DnaK but is helical when bound to GroEL. NMR also indicates that the mobility of the peptide backbone is reduced more by binding to DnaK than by binding to GroEL, whereas the side chains are less mobile when bound to GroEL.
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