Strain-dependent recognition of a unique degradation motif by ClpXP in Streptococcus mutans

Biswanath Jana, Liang Tao, Indranil Biswas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Streptococcus mutans, a dental pathogen, has a remarkable ability to cope with environmental stresses. Under stress conditions, cytoplasmic proteases play a major role in controlling the stability of regulatory proteins and preventing accumulation of damaged and misfolded proteins. ClpXP, a well-conserved cytoplasmic proteolytic system, is crucial in maintaining cellular homeostasis in bacteria. ClpX is primarily responsible for recognition of substrates and subsequent translocation of unfolded substrates into the ClpP proteolytic compartment for degradation. In Escherichia coli, ClpX recognizes distinct motifs present at the C-terminal end of target proteins. However, recognition sequences for ClpXP in other bacteria, including S. mutans, are not known. In this study, using two-dimensional (2D) polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) analysis, we have identified several putative substrates for S. mutans ClpXP. SsbA, which encodes a small DNA binding protein, is one such substrate that is degraded by ClpXP. By sequential deletions, we found that the last 3 C-terminal amino acids, LPF, are sufficient for ClpXP-mediated degradation. Addition of LPF at the C-terminal end of green fluorescent protein (GFP) rendered the protein completely degradable by ClpXP. Alterations of this tripeptide motif impeded ClpXP-mediated degradation. However, recognition of LPF by ClpXP is highly specific to some S. mutans strains (UA159, UA130, and N3209) since not all S. mutans strains recognize the motif. We speculate that an adaptor protein is involved in either substrate recognition or substrate degradation by ClpXP. Nevertheless, this is the first report of a unique recognition sequence for ClpXP in streptococci.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00287-16
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptor proteins
  • ClpXP
  • Motif
  • Regulated proteolysis
  • Streptococcus mutans


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