Members of the hsp70 family of molecular chaperones interact with and stabilize nascent polypeptides during synthesis and/or translocation into organelles. The bacterial hsp70 homologue DnaK requires the DnaJ cofactor for its reaction cycle with polypeptide substrates. DnaJ stimulates the ATPase activity of the DnaK chaperone and thereby is thought to regulate the affinity of DnaK for its protein target. Herein we have analyzed some of the biochemical properties of two mammalian cytosolic DnaJ homologues, the hdj-1 and hdj-2 proteins. We were particularly interested in examining the proposal that DnaJ homologues are the first molecular chaperones to interact directly with nascent polypeptides. Nascent/newly synthesized proteins, nascent polypeptides released from the ribosome by puromycin, or polypeptides misfolded as a result of incorporation of an amino acid analogue were not found in complexes with either of the two HeLa cell DnaJ homologues. We still were unable to demonstrate any interactions between hdj-1p and nascent/newly synthesized proteins even after chemical cross-linking. We did find that hdj- 1p, like bacterial DnaJ, stimulated the ATPase activity of hsp70. Stable complex formation between hsp70 and an unfolded polypeptide substrate in vitro was found to be reduced in the presence of hdj-1p and ATP. Thus, while hdj-1p likely does function as a cofactor for the hsp70 chaperone, having effects on hsp70's ATPase activity and conformation/oligomeric structure and the stability of hsp70-substrate complexes, it was not observed to interact directly with nascent/newly synthesized proteins. Rather, hdj-1p likely serves a regulatory role, governing the reaction cycle of hsp70 with polypeptide substrates.
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