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The Escherichia coli ATP-consuming chaperonin machinery, a complex between GroEL and GroES, has evolved to facilitate folding of substrate proteins (SPs) that cannot do so spontaneously. A series of kinetic experiments show that the SPs are encapsulated in the GroEL/ES nanocage for a short duration. If confinement of the SPs is the mechanism by which GroEL/ES facilitates folding, it follows that the assisted folding rate, relative to the bulk value, should always be enhanced. Here, we show that this is not the case for the folding of rhodanese in the presence of the full machinery of GroEL/ES and ATP. The assisted folding rate of rhodanese decreases. On the basis of our finding and those reported in other studies, we suggest that the ATP-consuming chaperonin machinery has evolved to optimize the product of the folding rate and the yield of the folded SPs on the biological time scale. Neither the rate nor the yield is separately maximized.


Eda Koculi, D Thirumalai. Retardation of Folding Rates of Substrate Proteins in the Nanocage of GroEL. Biochemistry. 2021 Feb 16;60(6):460-464

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PMID: 33464880

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