Streptococcus intermedius DnaK complements the temperature-sensitive phenotype of an Escherichia coli dnaK null mutant only when co-chaperones DnaJ and GrpE are co-expressed. Therefore, whether S. intermedius DnaK and E. coli DnaK can recognize heterologous co-chaperones in vitro was examined. Addition of heterologous GrpE to DnaK and DnaJ partially stimulated adenosine triphosphatase (ATPase) activity, and almost completely stimulated luciferase refolding activity. Addition of heterologous DnaJ to GrpE and DnaK also stimulated ATPase activity; however, significant luciferase refolding activity was not observed. Moreover, E. coli DnaJ had a negative effect on the luciferase refolding activity of the S. intermedius DnaK chaperone system. In E. coli chaperone mutants, with the exception of E. coli DnaJ, stronger expression of the heterologous co-chaperones partially or almost completely complemented the temperature-sensitive-phenotype. These results indicate that all heterologous co-chaperones can at least partially recognize DnaK of a distantly related species. A region of the ATPase domain that is present in the DnaK of gram-negative bacteria is absent from the DnaK of gram-positive bacteria. This region is believed to be important for recognition of co-chaperones from gram-negative bacteria. However, insertion of this segment into S. intermedius DnaK failed to increase its ability to recognize E. coli co-chaperones, implying that this region is unnecessary or insufficient for the recognition of E. coli co-chaperones. Thus, our data suggest that a basic structural similarity is conserved among the components of the S. intermedius and E. coli DnaK chaperone systems, allowing weak associations between heterologous components.
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