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J Bacteriol. 1990 Apr;172(4):1791-7.

The HtrA (DegP) protein, essential for Escherichia coli survival at high temperatures, is an endopeptidase.

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Department of Cellular, Viral and Molecular Biology, University of Utah Medical Center, Salt Lake City 84132.


As a preliminary step in the understanding of the function of the Escherichia coli HtrA (DegP) protein, which is indispensable for bacterial survival only at elevated temperatures, the protein was purified and partially characterized. The HtrA protein was purified from cells carrying the htrA gene cloned into a multicopy plasmid, resulting in its overproduction. The sequence of the 13 N-terminal amino acids of the purified HtrA protein was determined and was identical to the one predicted for the mature HtrA protein by the DNA sequence of the cloned gene. Moreover, the N-terminal sequence showed that the 48-kilodalton HtrA protein is derived by cleavage of the first 26 amino acids of the pre-HtrA precursor polypeptide and that the point of cleavage follows a typical target sequence recognized by the leader peptidase enzyme. The HtrA protein was shown to be a specific endopeptidase which was inhibited by diisopropylfluorophosphate, suggesting that HtrA is a serine protease.

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