Probing water density and dynamics in the chaperonin GroEL cavity

John M. Franck, Miri Sokolovski, Naama Kessler, Erez Matalon, Michal Gordon-Grossman, Song I. Han, Daniella Goldfarb, Amnon Horovitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


ATP-dependent binding of the chaperonin GroEL to its cofactor GroES forms a cavity in which encapsulated substrate proteins can fold in isolation from bulk solution. It has been suggested that folding in the cavity may differ from that in bulk solution owing to steric confinement, interactions with the cavity walls, and differences between the properties of cavity-confined and bulk water. However, experimental data regarding the cavity-confined water are lacking. Here, we report measurements of water density and diffusion dynamics in the vicinity of a spin label attached to a cysteine in the Tyr71 → Cys GroES mutant obtained using two magnetic resonance techniques: electron-spin echo envelope modulation and Overhauser dynamic nuclear polarization. Residue 71 in GroES is fully exposed to bulk water in free GroES and to confined water within the cavity of the GroEL-GroES complex. Our data show that water density and translational dynamics in the vicinity of the label do not change upon complex formation, thus indicating that bulk water-exposed and cavity-confined GroES surface water share similar properties. Interestingly, the diffusion dynamics of water near the GroES surface are found to be unusually fast relative to other protein surfaces studied. The implications of these findings for chaperonin-assisted folding mechanisms are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9396-9403
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number26
StatePublished - Jul 2 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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