GroEL and CCT are catalytic unfoldases mediating out-of-cage polypeptide refolding without ATP

Smriti Priya, Sandeep Kumar Sharma, Vishal Sood, Rayees U.H. Mattoo, Andrija Finka, Abdussalam Azem, Paolo De Los Rios, Pierre Goloubinoff*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chaperonins are cage-like complexes in which nonnative polypeptides prone to aggregation are thought to reach their native state optimally. However, they also may use ATP to unfold stably bound misfolded polypeptides andmediate the out-of-cage native refolding of large proteins. Here, we show that even without ATP and GroES, bothGroEL andthe eukaryotic chaperonin containingt-complex polypeptide 1 (CCT/TRiC) can unfold stable misfolded polypeptide conformers and readily release them from the access ways to the cage. Reconciling earlier disparate experimental observations to ours, we present a comprehensivemodel whereby following unfolding on the upper cavity, in-cage confinement is not needed for the released intermediates to slowly reach their native state in solution. As oversticky intermediates occasionally stall the catalytic unfoldase sites, GroES mobile loops and ATP are necessary to dissociate the inhibitory species and regenerate the unfolding activity. Thus, chaperonin rings are not obligate confining antiaggregation cages. They are polypeptide unfoldases that can iteratively convert stable off-pathway conformers into functional proteins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7199-7204
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number18
StatePublished - 30 Apr 2013


  • Molecular chaperones
  • Protein aggregation
  • Protein misfolding
  • Protein unfolding


Dive into the research topics of 'GroEL and CCT are catalytic unfoldases mediating out-of-cage polypeptide refolding without ATP'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this