The 93 kDa ClpB (ClpB93) is a heat shock protein and has a protein-activated ATPase activity. To define the role of the two ATP-binding sites in ClpB93, site-directed mutagenesis was performed to replace Lys212 or Lys611 with Thr or Glu. All of the mutant proteins hydrolysed ATP at a higher rate than that seen with ClpB93 at ATP concentrations up to 2 mM. However, ClpB93 carrying mutations in both of the ATP-binding sites could not cleave ATP. Thus any of the two ATP-binding sites seems to be capable of supporting the ATPase activity of ClpB93. The ATPase activities of both ClpB93/K212T and ClpB93/K212E were gradually decreased when ATP concentrations were increased above 2 mM, unlike those of ClpB93, ClpB93/K611T and ClpB93/K611E, which showed a typical saturation curve. Furthermore ADP inhibited ATP hydrolysis by ClpB93/K212T and ClpB93/K212E more effectively than that by the latter proteins, suggesting that the mutations in the first ATP-binding site result in an increase in the affinity of ADP for the second site in ClpB93. In addition, all of the purified ClpB93 and its mutant forms behaved as an oligomer of 400–450 kDa on a Sephacryl S-300 gel-filtration column, whether or not ATP was present. Thus the binding of ATP to either of the two sites seems not to be essential for oligomerization of ClpB93. Although a low-copy plasmid carrying clpB93 could rescue the sensitivity of a clpB-null mutant cell at 52 °C, none of the plasmids carrying the mutations in the ATP-binding sites could. Furthermore, incubation at 52 °C resulted in a gradual loss of the ATPase activity of ClpB93 carrying the mutations in either of the two ATP-binding sites, but not of the parental ClpB93, indicating that the mutant proteins have a greater tendency to denature at this temperature than the parental ClpB93. These results suggest that both of the ATP-binding sites in ClpB have an important role in maintaining the thermotolerance of the protein and hence in the survival of Escherichia coli at high temperatures.

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Author notes

1

These authors contributed equally to this work.