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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Mar 27;98(7):3768-72. Epub 2001 Mar 20.

ClpA mediates directional translocation of substrate proteins into the ClpP protease.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510, USA.


The intracellular degradation of many proteins is mediated in an ATP-dependent manner by large assemblies comprising a chaperone ring complex associated coaxially with a proteolytic cylinder, e.g., ClpAP, ClpXP, and HslUV in prokaryotes, and the 26S proteasome in eukaryotes. Recent studies of the chaperone ClpA indicate that it mediates ATP-dependent unfolding of substrate proteins and directs their ATP-dependent translocation into the ClpP protease. Because the axial passageway into the proteolytic chamber is narrow, it seems likely that unfolded substrate proteins are threaded from the chaperone into the protease, suggesting that translocation could be directional. We have investigated directionality in the ClpA/ClpP-mediated reaction by using two substrate proteins bearing the COOH-terminal ssrA recognition element, each labeled near the NH(2) or COOH terminus with fluorescent probes. Time-dependent changes in both fluorescence anisotropy and fluorescence resonance energy transfer between donor fluorophores in the ClpP cavity and the substrate probes as acceptors were measured to monitor translocation of the substrates from ClpA into ClpP. We observed for both substrates that energy transfer occurs 2--4 s sooner with the COOH-terminally labeled molecules than with the NH(2)-terminally labeled ones, indicating that translocation is indeed directional, with the COOH terminus of the substrate protein entering ClpP first.

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