Insights into the Structural Network Responsible for Oligomerization and Activity of the Bacterial Virulence Regulator Caseinolytic Protease P (Clpp)

Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2012, doi:10.1074/jbc.M111.336222, published on 30.01.2012
Journal of Biological Chemistry, online article
The barrel-shaped ClpP protease is a main virulence regulator in the bacterial pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. It consists of two heptameric rings forming a omo-tetradecamer with an inner chamber that houses the 14 active sites. We recently showed that SaClpP3 is able to adopt a compressed, inactive conformation. We here present the 2.3 Å resolution structure of SaClpP in its closed, active conformation as well as the structure of the S98A mutant. Comprehensive mutational analysis aiming at destabilizing one or the other or both conformations was able to pinpoint key residues involved in this catalytic switch and in the heptamer-heptamer interaction. By probing the active site serine with a covalently modifying beta-lacton probe, we could show that the tetradecameric organization is essential for a proper formation of the active site. Structural data suggest that a highly conserved hydrogenbonding network links oligomerization to activity. A comparison of ClpP structures from different organisms provides suggestive evidence for the presence of a universal mechanism regulating ClpP protease activity in which binding of one subunit to the corresponding subunit on the other ring interface is necessary for the functional assembly of the catalytic triad and thus for protease function. This mechanism ensures controlled access to the active sites of a highly unspecific protease.  

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