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J Biol Chem. 1990 Jul 25;265(21):12536-45.

Sequence and structure of Clp P, the proteolytic component of the ATP-dependent Clp protease of Escherichia coli.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


The ATP-dependent Clp protease of Escherichia coli contains two dissimilar components: the Clp A regulatory polypeptide, with two ATP binding sites and intrinsic ATPase activity, and the Clp P subunit, which contains the proteolytic active site. The DNA sequence of the clpP gene predicts a protein of 207 amino acids (Mr 21,679), which is in close agreement with the size determined by sodium dodecyl sulfate-gel electrophoresis of purified Clp P. Clp P has a native Mr of approximately 240,000, and electron micrographs of the protein show superimposed disk-like structures with a central cavity, similar in appearance to purified proteasomes from eukaryotic cells. Clp P is synthesized with a 14-amino acid leader which is rapidly cleaved in vivo to yield the 193-amino acid protein which has activity in vitro. The clpP gene is at 10 min on the E. coli map, close to that for the ATP-dependent Lon protease of E. coli and far from the gene for clpA. Primer extension experiments indicate that transcription initiates immediately upstream of the coding region for Clp P, with a major transcription start at 120 bases in front of the start of translation. Insertion mutations in clpP have been isolated and transferred to the chromosome; strains devoid of Clp P are viable in the presence or absence of Lon protease. Mutations in clpP stabilize the same Clp A-beta-galactosidase fusion protein specifically stabilized by clpA mutations, providing the first genetic evidence that Clp A and Clp P act together in vivo.

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