Hsp90 promotes kinase evolution

Jennifer Lachowiec, Tzitziki Lemus, Elhanan Borenstein, Christine Queitsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Heat-shock protein 90 (Hsp90) promotes the maturation and stability of its client proteins, including many kinases. In doing so, Hsp90 may allow its clients to accumulate mutations as previously proposed by the capacitor hypothesis. If true, Hsp90 clients should show increased evolutionary rate compared with nonclients; however, other factors, such as gene expression and protein connectivity, may confound or obscure the chaperone's putative contribution. Here, we compared the evolutionary rates of many Hsp90 clients and nonclients in the human protein kinase superfamily. We show that Hsp90 client status promotes evolutionary rate independently of, but in a small magnitude similar to that of gene expression and protein connectivity. Hsp90's effect on kinase evolutionary rate was detected across mammals, specifically relaxing purifying selection. Hsp90 clients also showed increased nucleotide diversity and harbored more damaging variation than nonclient kinases across humans. These results are consistent with the central argument of the capacitor hypothesis that interaction with the chaperone allows its clients to harbor genetic variation. Hsp90 client status is thought to be highly dynamic with as few as one amino acid change rendering a protein dependent on the chaperone. Contrary to this expectation, we found that across protein kinase phylogeny Hsp90 client status tends to be gained, maintained, and shared among closely related kinases. We also infer that the ancestral protein kinase was not an Hsp90 client. Taken together, our results suggest that Hsp90 played an important role in shaping the kinase superfamily.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-99
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Capacitor
  • Evolution
  • Gene family
  • Hsp90
  • Kinase
  • Relaxed selection


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