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Spiraling in Control: Structures and Mechanisms of the Hsp104 Disaggregase


Hsp104 is a hexameric AAA+ ATPase and protein disaggregase found in yeast, which couples ATP hydrolysis to the dissolution of diverse polypeptides trapped in toxic preamyloid oligomers, phase-transitioned gels, disordered aggregates, amyloids, and prions. Hsp104 shows plasticity in disaggregating diverse substrates, but how its hexameric architecture operates as a molecular machine has remained unclear. Here, we highlight structural advances made via cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM) that enhance our mechanistic understanding of Hsp104 and other related AAA+ translocases. Hsp104 hexamers are dynamic and adopt open "lock-washer" spiral states and closed ring structures that envelope polypeptide substrate inside the axial channel. ATP hydrolysis-driven conformational changes at the spiral seam ratchet substrate deeper into the channel. Remarkably, this mode of polypeptide translocation is reminiscent of models for how hexameric helicases unwind DNA and RNA duplexes. Thus, Hsp104 likely adapts elements of a deeply rooted, ring-translocase mechanism to the specialized task of protein disaggregation.

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