Salt bridges regulate both dimer formation and monomeric flexibility in HdeB and may have a role in periplasmic chaperone function

Wenjian Wang, Tim Rasmussen, Amanda J Harding, Nuala Booth, Ian Booth, James Naismith

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Escherichia coli and Gram-negative bacteria that live in the human gut must be able to tolerate rapid and large changes in environmental pH. Low pH irreversibly denatures and precipitates many bacterial proteins. While cytoplasmic proteins are well buffered against such swings, periplasmic proteins are not. Instead, it appears that some bacteria utilize chaperone
proteins that stabilize periplasmic proteins, preventing their precipitation. Two highly expressed and related proteins, HdeA and HdeB, have been identified as acid-activated chaperones. The structure of HdeA is known and a mechanism for activation has been proposed. In this model, dimeric HdeA dissociates at low pH, and the exposed dimeric interface binds exposed hydrophobic surfaces of acid-denatured proteins, preventing their
irreversible aggregation. We now report the structure and biophysical characterization of the HdeB protein. The monomer of HdeB shares a similar structure with HdeA, but its dimeric interface is different in composition and spatial location. We have used fluorescence to study the behavior of HdeB as pH is lowered, and like HdeA, it dissociates to monomers. We have identified one of the key intersubunit interactions that controls pH-induced monomerization. Our analysis identifies a structural interaction within the HdeB monomer that is disrupted as pH is lowered,
leading to enhanced structural flexibility.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)538-546
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Molecular Biology
Issue number3
Early online date25 Nov 2011
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2012


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