Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences (May 2021)

The Small Ones Matter—sHsps in the Bacterial Chaperone Network

  • Igor Obuchowski,
  • Piotr Karaś,
  • Krzysztof Liberek

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 8


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Small heat shock proteins (sHsps) are an evolutionarily conserved class of ATP-independent chaperones that form the first line of defence during proteotoxic stress. sHsps are defined not only by their relatively low molecular weight, but also by the presence of a conserved α-crystallin domain, which is flanked by less conserved, mostly unstructured, N- and C-terminal domains. sHsps form oligomers of different sizes which deoligomerize upon stress conditions into smaller active forms. Activated sHsps bind to aggregation-prone protein substrates to form assemblies that keep substrates from irreversible aggregation. Formation of these assemblies facilitates subsequent Hsp70 and Hsp100 chaperone-dependent disaggregation and substrate refolding into native species. This mini review discusses what is known about the role and place of bacterial sHsps in the chaperone network.