In live cells, protein folding often cannot occur spontaneously, but requires the participation of helper proteins - molecular chaperones and foldases. The mechanisms employed by chaperones markedly increase the effectiveness of protein folding, but have no bearing on the rate of this process, whereas foldases actually accelerate protein folding by exerting a direct influence on the rate-limiting steps of the overall reaction. Two types of foldases are known, using different principles of action. Peptidyl-prolyl cis/trans isomerase and protein-disulfide isomerase catalyze the folding of every protein that needs isomerization of prolyl peptide bonds or formation and isomerization of disulfide bonds for proper folding. By contrast, some foldases operating in the periplasm of bacterial cells are specifically designed to help in the folding of substrate proteins whose primary structure does not contain sufficient information for correct folding. In this review, we discuss recent data on the catalytic mechanisms of both types of foldases, focusing specifically on how a catalyst provides the structural information required for the folding of a target protein. Comparative analysis of the mechanisms employed by two different periplasmic foldases is used to substantiate the notion that combinations of a protein which is unable to fold independently and a specific catalyst delivering the necessary steric information are probably designed to achieve some particular biological purposes. The review also covers the problem of participation of peptidyl-prolyl cis/trans isomerase in different cellular functions, highlighting the role of this enzyme in conformational rearrangements of folded native proteins.
Keywords: Protein folding, enzymes, catalysis, periplasmic chaperones, prodomains, prolyl isomerization
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