Preferential binding of ADP-bound mitochondrial HSP70 to the nucleotide exchange factor GRPEL1 over GRPEL2

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Human nucleotide exchange factors GRPEL1 and GRPEL2 play pivotal roles in the ADP-ATP exchange within the protein folding cycle of mitochondrial HSP70 (mtHSP70), a crucial chaperone facilitating protein import into the mitochondrial matrix. Studies in human cells and mice have indicated that while GRPEL1 serves as an essential co-chaperone for mtHSP70, GRPEL2 has a role regulated by stress. However, the precise structural and biochemical mechanisms underlying the distinct functions of the GRPEL proteins have remained elusive. In our study, we present evidence revealing that ADP-bound mtHSP70 exhibits remarkably higher affinity for GRPEL1 compared to GRPEL2, with the latter experiencing a notable decrease in affinity upon ADP binding. Utilizing Alphafold modelling, we propose that the interaction between GRPEL1 and mtHSP70 can induce the opening of the nucleotide binding cleft of the chaperone, thereby facilitating the release of ADP, whereas GRPEL2 lacks this capability. This study elucidates how ADP binding to mtHSP70 enhances its affinity for GRPEL1, contrasting with its interaction with GRPEL2. Additionally, our findings suggest that the redox-regulated Cys87 residue in GRPEL2 does not play a role in dimerization but rather reduces its affinity for mtHSP70. Our findings on the structural and functional disparities between GRPEL1 and GRPEL2 may have implications for mitochondrial protein folding and import processes under varying cellular conditions.

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