15 Scopus citations


We propose a mechanism for the role of the bacterial chaperonin GroEL in folding proteins. The principal assumptions of the mechanism are (i) that many unfolded proteins bind to GroEL because GroEL preferentially binds small unstructured regions of the substrate protein, (ii) that substrate protein within the cavity of GroEL folds by the same kinetic mechanism and rate processes as in bulk solution, (iii) that stable or transient complexes with GroEL during the folding process are defined by a kinetic partitioning between formation and dissociation of the complex and the rate of folding and unfolding of the protein, and (iv) that dissociation from the complex in early stages of folding may lead to aggregation but dissociation at a late stage leads to correct folding. The experimental conditions for refolding may play a role in defining the function of GroEL in the folding pathway. We propose that the role of GroES and MgATP, either binding or hydrolysis, is to regulate the association and dissociation processes rather than affecting the rate of folding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5535-5538
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number11
StatePublished - May 27 1997


  • Aggregation
  • Dihydrofolate reductase
  • Folding intermediates


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