Eukaryotic cells contain multiple Hsp70 proteins and DnaJ homologues. The partnership between a given Hsp70 and its interacting DnaJ could, in principle, be determined by their cellular colocalization or by specific protein-protein interactions. The yeast SCJ1 gene encodes one of several homologues of the bacterial chaperone DnaJ. We show that Scj1p is located in the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), where it can function with Kar2p (the ER-lumenal BiP/Hsp70 of yeast). The region common to all DnaJ homologues (termed the J domain) from Scj1p can be swapped for a similar region in Sec63p, which is known to interact with Kar2p in the ER lumen, to form a functional transmembrane protein component of the secretory machinery. Thus, Kar2p can interact with two different DnaJ proteins. On the other hand, J domains from two other non-ER DnaJs, Sis1p and Mdj1p, do not function when swapped into Sec63p. However, only three amino acid changes in the Sis1p J domain render the Sec63 fusion protein fully functional in the ER lumen. These results indicate that the choice of an Hsp70 partner by a given DnaJ homologue is specified by the J domain.

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