Small heat shock proteins (sHsp) are ubiquitously expressed in all human tissues and have an important housekeeping role in preventing the accumulation of aggregates of improperly folded or denatured proteins. They also participate in the regulation of the cytoskeleton, proliferation, apoptosis and many other vital processes. Fluorescent chimeras composed of sHsp and enhanced fluorescent proteins have been used to determine the intracellular locations of small heat shock proteins and to analyse the hetero-oligomeric complexes formed by different sHsp. However, the biochemical properties and chaperone-like activities of these chimeras have not been investigated. To determine the properties of these chimeras, we fused enhanced yellow and cyan fluorescent proteins (EYFP and ECFP) to the N-termini of four ubiquitously expressed human small heat shock proteins: HspB1, HspB5, HspB6, and HspB8. The eight fluorescent chimeras of small heat shock proteins and isolated fluorescent proteins were expressed in Escherichia coli. The chimeric proteins were isolated and purified via ammonium sulphate fractionation, ion exchange and size-exclusion chromatography. This method provided 20-100 mg of fluorescent chimeras from 1 L of bacterial culture. The spectral properties of the chimeras were similar to those of the isolated fluorescent proteins. The fusion of fluorescent proteins to HspB6 and HspB8, which typically form dimers, did not affect their quaternary structures. Oligomers of the fluorescent chimeras of HspB1 and HspB5 were less stable and contained fewer subunits than oligomers formed by the wild-type proteins. Fusion with EYFP decreased the chaperone-like activity of HspB5 and HspB6 whereas fusion with ECFP increased chaperone-like activity. All fluorescent chimeras of HspB1 and HspB8 had higher chaperone-like activity than the wild-type proteins. Thus, although fluorescent chimeras are useful for many purposes, the fluorescent proteins used to form these chimeras may affect certain important properties of sHsp.
- Chaperone-like activity
- Enhanced fluorescent proteins
- Human small heat shock proteins
- Oligomeric state
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