Release of a disordered domain enhances HspB1 chaperone activity toward tau

March 24, 2020


Release of a disordered domain enhances HspB1 chaperone activity toward tau


Hannah E. R. Baughman, Thanh-Hau T. Pham, Chloe S. Adams, Abhinav Nath, Rachel E. Klevit






Small heat shock proteins (sHSPs) are a class of ATP-independent molecular chaperones that play vital roles in maintaining protein solubility and preventing aberrant protein aggregation. They form highly dynamic, polydisperse oligomeric ensembles and contain long intrinsically disordered regions. Experimental challenges posed by these properties have greatly impeded our understanding of sHSP structure and mechanism of action. Here we characterize interactions between the human sHSP HspB1 (Hsp27) and microtubule-associated protein tau, which is implicated in multiple dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease. We show that tau binds both to a well-known binding groove within the structured alpha-crystallin domain (ACD) and to sites within the enigmatic, disordered N-terminal region (NTR) of HspB1. However, only interactions involving the NTR lead to productive chaperone activity, whereas ACD binding is uncorrelated with chaperone function. The tau-binding groove in the ACD also binds short hydrophobic regions within HspB1 itself, and HspB1 mutations that disrupt these intrinsic ACD–NTR interactions greatly enhance chaperone activity toward tau. This leads to a mechanism in which the release of the disordered NTR from a binding groove on the ACD enhances chaperone activity toward tau. The study advances understanding of the mechanisms by which sHSPs achieve their chaperone activity against amyloid-forming clients and how cells defend against pathological tau aggregation. Furthermore, the resulting mechanistic model points to ways in which sHSP chaperone activity may be increased, either by native factors within the cell or by therapeutic intervention.




Circular dichroism, Secondary structure, Protein folding, Biochemistry