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Received October 2, 2014; Revision received October 12, 2014
Chimerical proteins consisting of enhanced yellow fluorescent protein (EYFP) connected by linkers of different length and nature to the N-terminal end of small heat shock protein HspB1 were obtained and characterized. To obtain fluorescent chimeras with properties similar to those of unmodified small heat shock protein, we used either 12-residue-long linkers of different nature (highly flexible Gly-Ser linker (L1), rigid α-helical linker (L2), or rigid Pro-Ala linker (L3)) or highly flexible Gly-Ser linker consisting of 12, 18, or 21 residues. The wild-type HspB1 formed large stable oligomers consisting of more than 20 subunits. Independent of the length or the nature of the linker, all the fluorescent chimeras formed small (5-9 subunits) oligomers tending to dissociate at low protein concentration. Chaperone-like activity of the wild-type HspB1 and its fluorescent chimeras were compared using lysozyme as a model protein substrate. Under the conditions used, all the fluorescent chimeras possessed higher chaperone-like activity than the wild-type HspB1. Chaperone-like activity of fluorescent chimeras with L1 and L3 linkers was less different from that of the wild-type HspB1 compare to the chaperone-like activity of chimeras with rigid L2 linker. Increase in the length of L1 linker from 12 up to 21 residues leads to decrease in the difference in the chaperone-like activity between the wild-type protein and its fluorescent chimeras. Since the N-terminal domain of small heat shock proteins participates in formation of large oligomers, any way of attachment of fluorescent protein to the N-terminal end of HspB1 leads to dramatic changes in its oligomeric structure. Long flexible linkers should be used to obtain fluorescent chimeras with chaperone-like properties similar to those of the wild-type HspB1.
KEY WORDS: small heat shock proteins, HspB1, fluorescent chimeras, quaternary structure, chaperone-like activity