Date of Award

9-1-2011

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Molecular and Cellular Biology

First Advisor

Lila Gierasch

Second Advisor

Craig Martin

Third Advisor

Jeanne Hardy

Subject Categories

Cell Biology

Abstract

Hsp70 molecular chaperones protect proteins from aggregation, assist in their native structure formation, and regulate stress responses in the cell. A mechanistic understanding of Hsp70 function will be necessary to explain its physiological roles and guide the therapeutic modulation of various disease states. To this end, several fundamental features of the Hsp70 structure-function relationship are investigated. The central component of Hsp70 chaperone function is its capacity for allosteric signaling between structural domains and tunable binding of misfolded protein substrates. In order to identify a cooperative network of sites that mediates interdomain allostery within Hsp70, a mutational correlation analysis is performed using genetic data. Evolutionarily correlations that describe an allosteric network are validated by examining roles for implicated sites in cellular fitness and molecular function. In a second component of the Hsp70 molecular mechanism, a novel function is discovered for the disordered C-terminal tail. This region of the protein enhances the refolding efficiency of substrate proteins independently of interdomain allostery and is required in the cell upon depletion of compensatory chaperones, suggesting a previously undescribed mode of chaperone action. Finally, experiments are initiated to assess the dynamic assembly of Hsp70 domains in various allosteric states and how domain orientations may be guided through interaction with partner co-chaperone proteins.

Included in

Cell Biology Commons

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