To understand the mechanism of a functionally important ATP-induced allosteric transition of GroEL, we have studied the effect of a series of metal fluoride-ADP complexes and vanadate-ADP on GroEL by kinetic fluorescence measurement of pyrene-labeled GroEL and by small-angle X-ray scattering measurement of wild-type GroEL. The metal fluorides and vanadate, complexed with ADP, are known to mimic the gamma-phosphate group of ATP, but they differ in geometry and size; it is expected that these compounds will be useful for investigating the strikingly high specificity of GroEL for ATP that enables the induction of the allosteric transition. The kinetic fluorescence measurement revealed that aluminium, beryllium, and gallium ions, when complexed with the fluoride ion and ADP, induced a biphasic fluorescence change of pyrenyl GroEL, while scandium and vanadate ions did not induce any kinetically observed change in fluorescence. The burst phase and the first phase of the fluorescence kinetics were reversible, while the second phase and subsequent changes were irreversible. The dependence of the burst-phase and the first-phase fluorescence changes on the ADP concentration indicated that the burst phase represents non-cooperative nucleotide binding to GroEL, and that the first phase represents the allosteric transition of GroEL. Both the amplitude and the rate constant of the first phase of the fluorescence kinetics were well understood in terms of a kinetic allosteric model, which is a combination of transition state theory and the Monod-Wyman-Changeux allosteric model. From the kinetic allosteric model analysis, the relative free energy of the transition state in the metal fluoride-ADP-induced allosteric transition of GroEL was found to be larger than the corresponding free energy of the ATP-induced allosteric transition by more than 5.5kcal/mol. However, the X-ray scattering measurements indicated that the allosteric state induced by these metal fluoride-ADP complexes is structurally equivalent to the allosteric state induced by ATP. These results suggested that both the size and coordination geometry of gamma-phosphate (and its analogs) are related to the allosteric transition of GroEL. It was therefore concluded that the tetrahedral geometry of gamma-phosphate (or its analogs) and the inter-atomic distance ( approximately 1.6A) between phosphorus (vanadium, or metal atom) and oxygen (or fluorine) are both important for inducing the allosteric transition of GroEL, leading to the high selectivity of GroEL for ATP about ligand adenine nucleotides, which function as the preferred allosteric ligand.
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