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Mol Microbiol. 2000 Aug;37(4):717-26.

Regulation of growth inhibition at high temperature, autolysis, transformation and adherence in Streptococcus pneumoniae by clpC.

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Department of Infectious Diseases, St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN 38105, USA.


The ClpC ATPase is a subfamily of HSP100/Clp molecular chaperones-regulators of proteolysis. By screening a library of loss of function mutants for the ability to survive treatment with penicillin, we identified the gene clpC. The corresponding protein was identified as a ClpC ATPase, sharing strong peptide sequence identity with ClpC of Bacillus subtilis, Listeria monocytogenes and Lactococcus lactis. Northern blot experiments showed that expression of clpC was induced in response to high temperature (40-42 degrees C) versus 37 degrees C, suggesting that ClpC is a heat shock protein. Insertional duplication mutagenesis of clpC resulted in increased tolerance to high temperature; a result in contrast to other bacterial Clp proteases. The clpC-deficient mutant formed long chains and failed to undergo lysis after treatment with penicillin or vancomycin. The effect of the clpC mutation extended to deficiency of adherence to the human type II alveolar cells. Finally, the clpC disruption resulted in decreased genetic transformation. Western blot analysis demonstrated that the mutant failed to express pneumolysin and the choline-binding proteins LytA, CbpA, CbpE, CbpF, CbpJ. These results suggest that the heat shock protein ClpC plays an essential complex pleiotropic role in pneumococcal physiology, including cell growth under heat stress, cell division, autolysis, adherence and transformation.

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