Protein folding and assembly in the cell requires the assistance of molecular chaperones. These components prevent off pathway folding reactions that lead to aggregation. They are also critical factors in organismal stress physiology, protecting cells against heat shock and providing thermotolerance. Among this important protein family are chaperonins. They form large cylindrical double ring complexes with a central cavity where protein binding and folding takes place in an ATP-dependent manner. Recently, components functionally related to the eubacterial and organellar chaperonins have been found in the cytosol of archaebacteria and of eukaryotic cells. Based on their sequences and structural features, they have been classified as group II chaperonins, to distinguish them from the group I chaperonins occuring in bacteria. Of particular interest in the group II family is the eukaryotic CCT complex, whose function in protein folding and assembly has been demonstrated mainly for the cytoskeletal prot eins tubulin and actin. Together with the Hsp70 chaperone system, it can be considered as an essential helper factor to facilitate the folding of native proteins in the eukaryotic cytosol. Recent structural data have opened the path to a molecular understanding of group II chaperonins and have helped to define their role in cellular protein folding.
Keywords: Group II Chaperonins, Mediators, Cytosolic Protein Folding, Thermophilic factor 55, Chaperonin Structure, Substrates, Cellular Protein Folding, Methanobacerium, Thermoautotrophicum
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