Publication Details

Wyatt, A. R., Yerbury, J. & Wilson, M. R. (2009). Structural characterization of clusterin-chaperone client protein complexes. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 284 (33), 21920-21927.


Clusterin (CLU) is a potent extracellular chaperone that inhibits protein aggregation and precipitation otherwise caused by physical or chemical stresses (e.g. heat, reduction). This action involves CLU forming soluble high molecular weight (HMW) complexes with the client protein. Other than their unquantified large size, the physical characteristics of these complexes were previously unknown. In this study, HMW CLU-citrate synthase (CS), HMW CLU-fibrinogen (FGN), and HMW CLU-glutathione S-transferase (GST) complexes were generated in vitro, and their structures studied using size exclusion chromatography (SEC), ELISA, SDS-PAGE, dynamic light scattering (DLS), bisANS fluorescence, and circular dichroism spectrophotometry (CD). Densitometry of Coomassie Blue-stained SDS-PAGE gels indicated that all three HMW CLU-client protein complexes had an approximate mass ratio of 1:2 (CLU:client protein). SEC indicated that all three clients formed complexes with CLU ≥ 4 × 107 Da; however, DLS estimated HMW CLU-FGN to have a diameter of 108.57 ± 18.09 nm, while HMW CLU-CS and HMW CLU-GST were smaller with estimated diameters of 51.06 ± 6.87 nm and 52.61 ± 7.71 nm, respectively. Measurements of bisANS fluorescence suggest that the chaperone action of CLU involves preventing the exposure to aqueous solvent of hydrophobic regions that are normally exposed by the client protein during heat-induced unfolding. CD analysis indicated that, depending on the individual client protein, CLU may interact with a variety of intermediates on protein unfolding pathways with different amounts of native secondary structure. In vivo, soluble complexes like those studied here are likely to serve as vehicles to dispose of otherwise dangerous aggregation-prone misfolded extracellular proteins.



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