A small periplasmic protein with a hydrophobic C-terminal residue enhances DegP proteolysis as a suicide activator

Sungjae Kim, Inseok Song, Gaeul Eom, Seokhee Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

DegP is a highly conserved protease that performs regulated proteolysis to selectively remove misfolded proteins in the periplasm of Escherichia coli. Binding of misfolded proteins is known to be the main mechanism of DegP activation, but it is unknown whether any native proteins can alter DegP activity. Here, we show that a small periplasmic protein, YjfN, which is highly upregulated by the Cpx envelope stress response, functions as a "suicide activator" for DegP and promotes efficient degradation of misfolded proteins. YjfN readily binds to and is degraded by DegP, for which a hydrophobic C-terminal residue and transient unfolding of YjfN are critical. YjfN also activates DegP in trans while it is being degraded and accelerates degradation of a denatured outer membrane protein, OmpA, that is not easily recognized by DegP. Although YjfN also prevents OmpA aggregation, the trans-activation effect is mainly responsible for efficient OmpA degradation. Overexpression of YjfN enhances the viability of cells in misfolded protein stress that is induced by the presence of a less-active variant of DegP at high temperature. Collectively, we suggest that YjfN can enhance DegP proteolysis for relieving envelope stresses that may generate toxic misfolded proteins.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00519-17
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Volume200
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2018

Keywords

  • DegP
  • HtrA
  • Protein quality control
  • Proteolysis
  • Suicide activator
  • YjfN

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