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Mol Microbiol. 2003 Apr;48(2):443-52.

Turnover of FlhD and FlhC, master regulator proteins for Salmonella flagellum biogenesis, by the ATP-dependent ClpXP protease.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chiba University, Chiba, 263-8522, Japan.


In enterobacteria such as Salmonella, flagellar biogenesis is dependent upon the master operon flhDC at the apex of the flagellar gene hierarchy, which is divided into three classes 1, 2 and 3. Previously we reported that depletion of the ClpXP ATP-dependent protease results in dramatic enhancement of class 2 and class 3 gene transcription, whereas the transcription level of the flhDC operon remains normal in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. This suggests that the ClpXP protease may be responsible for the turnover of the FlhD and FlhC master regulators (Tomoyasu, T., Ohkishi, T., Ukyo, Y., Tokumitsu, A., Takaya, A., Suzuki, M. et al., 2002, J Bacteriol 184:645-653). In this study, to establish the role of the ClpXP protease in the turnover of FlhD and FlhC proteins, we analysed levels of the FlhD and FlhC proteins in wild-type and ClpXP mutant cells using anti-FlhD and anti-FlhC antibodies. The results show that both FlhD and FlhC proteins are markedly accumulated in ClpXP mutant cells and the half-life of FlhC is approximately fivefold longer in the ClpXP mutant, suggesting that the ClpXP protease is responsible for the degradation of FlhD and FlhC. The results also show that the ClpXP protease degrades both proteins in FlhD2FlhC2 complex but does not seem to recognize the respective subunits synthesized individually. Taken together, it is suggested that the cellular concentration of the FlhD2FlhC2 master regulator is tightly controlled at the post-translational level by the ClpXP protease. We also examined the role of other members of the ATP-dependent protease family in the regulation of flagellar biogenesis and concluded that only ClpXP in this family functions as a negative regulator for flagellar biogenesis in Salmonella.

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