Send to

Choose Destination
J Bacteriol. 2009 Mar;191(6):1924-32. doi: 10.1128/JB.01187-08. Epub 2008 Dec 19.

Characterization of the autocleavage process of the Escherichia coli HtrA protein: implications for its physiological role.

Author information

Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, McMaster University, 1200 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario L8N3Z5, Canada.


The Escherichia coli HtrA protein is a periplasmic protease/chaperone that is upregulated under stress conditions. The protease and chaperone activities of HtrA eliminate or refold damaged and unfolded proteins in the bacterial periplasm that are generated upon stress conditions. In the absence of substrates, HtrA oligomerizes into a hexameric cage, but binding of misfolded proteins transforms the hexamers into bigger 12-mer and 24-mer cages that encapsulate the substrates for degradation or refolding. HtrA also undergoes partial degradation as a consequence of self-cleavage of the mature protein, producing short-HtrA protein (s-HtrA). The aim of this study was to examine the physiological role of this self-cleavage process. We found that the only requirement for self-cleavage of HtrA into s-HtrA in vitro was the hydrolysis of protein substrates. In fact, peptides resulting from the hydrolysis of the protein substrates were sufficient to induce autocleavage. However, the continuous presence of full-length substrate delayed the process. In addition, we observed that the hexameric cage structure is required for autocleavage and that s-HtrA accumulates only late in the degradation reaction. These results suggest that self-cleavage occurs when HtrA reassembles back into the resting hexameric structure and peptides resulting from substrate hydrolysis are allosterically stimulating the HtrA proteolytic activity. Our data support a model in which the physiological role of the self-cleavage process is to eliminate the excess of HtrA once the stress conditions cease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center