The chaperone activity of Hsp70 (70 kDa heat-shock protein) in protein folding and its conformational switch, including oligomeric and monomeric interconversion, are regulated by the hydrolysis of ATP and the ATP–ADP exchange cycle. The crystal structure of human ATPase domain shows two metal-binding sites, the first for ATP binding and a second, in close proximity to the first, whose function remains unknown [Sriram, Osipiuk, Freeman, Morimoto and Joachimiak (1997) Structure 5, 403–414]. In this study, we have characterized the second metal-binding motif by site-directed mutagenesis and the kinetics of ATP and ADP binding, and found that the second metal-binding site, comprising a loop co-ordinated by His-227, Glu-231 and Asp-232, participates both in ATP hydrolysis and ATP-synthetic activities, in co-operation with the first metal-binding site. The first metal-binding site, a catalytic centre, is essential for ATP binding and the second site for ADP binding in the reactions of ATP hydrolysis and ATP synthesis.

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