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1.  The Mycobacterium tuberculosis ClpP1P2 Protease Interacts Asymmetrically with Its ATPase Partners ClpX and ClpC1 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(5):e0125345.
Clp chaperone-proteases are cylindrical complexes built from ATP-dependent chaperone rings that stack onto a proteolytic ClpP double-ring core to carry out substrate protein degradation. Interaction of the ClpP particle with the chaperone is mediated by an N-terminal loop and a hydrophobic surface patch on the ClpP ring surface. In contrast to E. coli, Mycobacterium tuberculosis harbors not only one but two ClpP protease subunits, ClpP1 and ClpP2, and a homo-heptameric ring of each assembles to form the ClpP1P2 double-ring core. Consequently, this hetero double-ring presents two different potential binding surfaces for the interaction with the chaperones ClpX and ClpC1. To investigate whether ClpX or ClpC1 might preferentially interact with one or the other double-ring face, we mutated the hydrophobic chaperone-interaction patch on either ClpP1 or ClpP2, generating ClpP1P2 particles that are defective in one of the two binding patches and thereby in their ability to interact with their chaperone partners. Using chaperone-mediated degradation of ssrA-tagged model substrates, we show that both Mycobacterium tuberculosis Clp chaperones require the intact interaction face of ClpP2 to support degradation, resulting in an asymmetric complex where chaperones only bind to the ClpP2 side of the proteolytic core. This sets the Clp proteases of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and probably other Actinobacteria, apart from the well-studied E. coli system, where chaperones bind to both sides of the protease core, and it frees the ClpP1 interaction interface for putative new binding partners.
PMCID: PMC4416901  PMID: 25933022
2.  Mycobacterium tuberculosis ClpP1 and ClpP2 Function Together in Protein Degradation and Are Required for Viability in vitro and During Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(2):e1002511.
In most bacteria, Clp protease is a conserved, non-essential serine protease that regulates the response to various stresses. Mycobacteria, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) and Mycobacterium smegmatis, unlike most well studied prokaryotes, encode two ClpP homologs, ClpP1 and ClpP2, in a single operon. Here we demonstrate that the two proteins form a mixed complex (ClpP1P2) in mycobacteria. Using two different approaches, promoter replacement, and a novel system of inducible protein degradation, leading to inducible expression of clpP1 and clpP2, we demonstrate that both genes are essential for growth and that a marked depletion of either one results in rapid bacterial death. ClpP1P2 protease appears important in degrading missense and prematurely terminated peptides, as partial depletion of ClpP2 reduced growth specifically in the presence of antibiotics that increase errors in translation. We further show that the ClpP1P2 protease is required for the degradation of proteins tagged with the SsrA motif, a tag co-translationally added to incomplete protein products. Using active site mutants of ClpP1 and ClpP2, we show that the activity of each subunit is required for proteolysis, for normal growth of Mtb in vitro and during infection of mice. These observations suggest that the Clp protease plays an unusual and essential role in Mtb and may serve as an ideal target for antimycobacterial therapy.
Author Summary
Due to the significant and rapid rise in multidrug resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), there is an urgent need to validate novel drug targets for the treatment of tuberculosis. Here, we show that Clp protease is an ideal potential target. Mtb encodes two ClpP genes, ClpP1 and ClpP2, which associate together to form a single proteolytic complex, referred to as ClpP1P2. Both proteins are required for growth in vitro and in a mouse model of infection. Depletion of either protein results in rapid death of the bacteria. Interestingly, this is rare among bacteria, most of which have only one ClpP gene that is dispensable for normal growth. We also show that Clp protease plays an important quality control role by clearing abnormally produced proteins. As known antimycobacterial therapeutics increase errors in protein synthesis, inhibitors of ClpP1P2 protease in Mtb may prove synergistic with already existing agents.
PMCID: PMC3280978  PMID: 22359499
3.  Substrate delivery by the AAA+ ClpX and ClpC1 unfoldases activates the mycobacterial ClpP1P2 peptidase 
Molecular microbiology  2014;93(4):617-628.
Mycobacterial Clp-family proteases function via collaboration of the heteromeric ClpP1P2 peptidase with a AAA+ partner, ClpX or ClpC1. These enzymes are essential for M. tuberculosis viability and are validated antibacterial drug targets, but the requirements for assembly and regulation of functional proteolytic complexes are poorly understood. Here, we report the reconstitution of protein degradation by mycobacterial Clp proteases in vitro and describe novel features of these enzymes that distinguish them from orthologs in other bacteria. Both ClpX and ClpC1 catalyze ATP-dependent unfolding and degradation of native protein substrates in conjunction with ClpP1P2, but neither mediates protein degradation with just ClpP1 or ClpP2. ClpP1P2 alone has negligible peptidase activity, but is strongly stimulated by translocation of protein substrates into ClpP1P2 by either AAA+ partner. Interestingly, our results support a model in which both binding of a AAA+ partner and protein-substrate delivery are required to stabilize active ClpP1P2. Our model has implications for therapeutically targeting ClpP1P2 in dormant M. tuberculosis, and our reconstituted systems should facilitate identification of novel Clp protease inhibitors and activators.
PMCID: PMC4131744  PMID: 24976069
4.  Multiple Pathways of Spx (YjbD) Proteolysis in Bacillus subtilis 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(13):3664-3670.
ATP-dependent proteases degrade denatured or misfolded proteins and are recruited for the controlled removal of proteins that block activation of regulatory pathways. Among the ATP-dependent proteases, those of the Clp family are particularly important for the growth and development of Bacillus subtilis. Proteolytic subunit ClpP, together with regulatory ATPase subunit ClpC or ClpX, is required for the normal response to stress, for development of genetic competence, and for sporulation. The spx (formally yjbD) gene was previously identified as a site of mutations that suppress defects in competence conferred by clpP and clpX. The level of Spx in wild-type cells grown in competence medium is low, and that in clpP mutants is high. This suggests that the Spx protein is a substrate for ClpP-containing proteases and that accumulation of Spx might be partly responsible for the observed pleiotropic phenotype resulting from the clpP mutation. In this study we examined, both in vivo and in vitro, which ClpP protease is responsible for degradation of Spx. Western blot analysis showed that Spx accumulated in clpX mutant to the same level as that observed in the clpP mutant. In contrast, a very low concentration of Spx was detected in a clpC mutant. An in vitro proteolysis experiment using purified proteins demonstrated that Spx was degraded by ClpCP but only in the presence of one of the ClpC adapter proteins, MecA or YpbH. However, ClpXP, either in the presence or in the absence of MecA and YpbH, was unable to degrade Spx. Transcription of spx, as measured by expression of spx-lacZ, was slightly increased by the clpX mutation. To exclude a possible effect of clpX and clpP on spx transcription, the spx gene was placed under the control of the IPTG (isopropyl-β-d-thiogalactopyranoside)-inducible Pspac promoter. In this strain, Spx accumulated when ClpX or ClpP was absent, suggesting that ClpX and ClpP are required for degradation of Spx. Taken together, these results suggest that Spx is degraded by both ClpCP and ClpXP. The putative proteolysis by ClpXP might require another adapter protein. Spx probably is degraded by ClpCP under as yet unidentified conditions. This study suggests that the level of Spx is tightly controlled by two different ClpP proteases.
PMCID: PMC135134  PMID: 12057962
5.  Turned on for degradation: ATPase-independent degradation by ClpP 
Journal of structural biology  2008;165(2):118-125.
Clp is a barrel-shaped hetero-oligomeric ATP-dependent protease comprising a hexameric ATPase (ClpX or ClpA) that unfolds protein substrates and translocates them into the central chamber of the tetradecameric proteolytic component (ClpP) where they are degraded processively to short peptides. Chamber access is controlled by the N-terminal 20 residues (for Escherichia coli) in ClpP that prevent entry of large polypeptides in the absence of the ATPase subunits and ATP hydrolysis. Remarkably, removal of 10–17 residues from the mature N-terminus allows processive degradation of a large model unfolded substrate to short peptides without the ATPase subunit or ATP hydrolysis; removal of 14 residues is maximal for activation. Furthermore, since the product size distribution of Δ14-ClpP is identical to ClpAP and ClpXP, the ATPases do not play an essential role in determining this distribution. Comparison of the structures of Δ14-ClpP and Δ17-ClpP with other published structures shows R15 and S16 are labile and that residue 17 can adopt a range of rotomers to ensure protection of a hydrophobic pocket formed by I19, R24 and F49 and maintain a hydrophilic character of the pore.
PMCID: PMC3433037  PMID: 19038348
ATP-independent degradation; Clp; ClpP; Substrate entry
6.  ClgR, a Novel Regulator of clp and lon Expression in Streptomyces 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(10):3238-3248.
The clp genes encoding the Clp proteolytic complex are widespread among living organisms. Five clpP genes are present in Streptomyces. Among them, the clpP1 clpP2 operon has been shown to be involved in the Streptomyces growth cycle, as a mutation blocked differentiation at the substrate mycelium step. Four Clp ATPases have been identified in Streptomyces coelicolor (ClpX and three ClpC proteins) which are potential partners of ClpP1 ClpP2. The clpC1 gene appears to be essential, since no mutant has yet been obtained. clpP1 clpP2 and clpC1 are important for Streptomyces growth, and a study of their regulation is reported here. The clpP3 clpP4 operon, which has been studied in Streptomyces lividans, is induced in a clpP1 mutant strain, and regulation of its expression is mediated via PopR, a transcriptional regulator. We report here studies of clgR, a paralogue of popR, in S. lividans. Gel mobility shift assays and DNase I footprinting indicate that ClgR binds not only to the clpP1 and clpC1 promoters, but also to the promoter of the Lon ATP-dependent protease gene and the clgR promoter itself. ClgR recognizes the motif GTTCGC-5N-GCG. In vivo, ClgR acts as an activator of clpC1 gene and clpP1 operon expression. Similarly to PopR, ClgR degradation might be ClpP dependent and could be mediated via recognition of the two carboxy-terminal alanine residues.
PMCID: PMC400634  PMID: 15126487
7.  Control of substrate gating and translocation into ClpP by channel residues and ClpX binding 
Journal of molecular biology  2010;399(5):707-718.
ClpP is a self-compartmentalized protease, which has very limited degradation activity unless it associates with ClpX or ClpA to form the AAA+ ClpXP or ClpAP proteases. Here, we show that ClpX binding stimulates ClpP cleavage of peptides larger than a few amino acids and enhances ClpP active-site modification. Stimulation requires ATP binding but not hydrolysis by ClpX. The magnitude of this enhancement correlates with increasing molecular weight of the molecule entering ClpP. Amino-acid substitutions in the channel loop or helix A of ClpP enhance entry of larger substrates into the free enzyme, eliminate ClpX binding in some cases, and are not further stimulated by ClpX binding in other instances. These results support a model in which the channel residues of free ClpP exclude efficient entry of all but the smallest peptides into the degradation chamber, with ClpX binding serving to relieve these inhibitory interactions. Specific ClpP channel variants also prevent ClpXP translocation of certain amino-acid sequences, suggesting that the wild-type channel plays an important role in facilitating broad translocation specificity. In combination with previous studies, our results indicate that collaboration between ClpP and its partner ATPases opens a gate that functions to exclude larger substrates from isolated ClpP.
PMCID: PMC2885556  PMID: 20416323
8.  Identification and Transcriptional Control of the Genes Encoding the Caulobacter crescentus ClpXP Protease 
Journal of Bacteriology  1999;181(10):3039-3050.
The region of the Caulobacter crescentus chromosome harboring the genes for the ClpXP protease was isolated and characterized. Comparison of the deduced amino acid sequences of the C. crescentus ClpP and ClpX proteins with those of their homologues from several gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria revealed stronger conservation for the ATPase regulatory subunit (ClpX) than for the peptidase subunit (ClpP). The C. crescentus clpX gene was shown by complementation analysis to be functional in Escherichia coli. However, clpX from E. coli was not able to substitute for the essential nature of the clpX gene in C. crescentus. The clpP and clpX genes are separated on the C. crescentus chromosome by an open reading frame pointing in the opposite direction from the clp genes, and transcription of clpP and clpX was found to be uncoupled. clpP is transcribed as a monocistronic unit with a promoter (PP1) located immediately upstream of the 5′ end of the gene and a terminator structure following its 3′ end. PP1 is under heat shock control and is induced upon entry of the cells into the stationary phase. At least three promoters for clpX (PX1, PX2, and PX3) were mapped in the clpP-clpX intergenic region. In contrast to PP1, the clpX promoters were found to be downregulated after heat shock but were also subject to growth phase control. In addition, the clpP and clpX promoters showed different activity patterns during the cell cycle. Together, these results demonstrate that the genes coding for the peptidase and the regulatory subunits of the ClpXP protease are under independent transcriptional control in C. crescentus. Determination of the numbers of ClpP and ClpX molecules per cell suggested that ClpX is the limiting component compared with ClpP.
PMCID: PMC93758  PMID: 10322004
9.  The Purification of the Chlamydomonas reinhardtii chloroplast ClpP complex: additional subunits and structural features 
Plant molecular biology  2012;80(2):189-202.
The ClpP peptidase is a major constituent of the proteolytic machinery of bacteria and organelles. The chloroplast ClpP complex is unusual, in that it associates a large number of subunits, one of which (ClpP1) is encoded in the chloroplast, the others in the nucleus. The complexity of these large hetero-oligomeric complexes has been a major difficulty in their overproduction and biochemical characterization. In this paper, we describe the purification of native chloroplast ClpP complex from the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, using a strain that carries the Strep-tag II at the C-terminus of the ClpP1 subunit. Similar to land plants, the algal complex comprises active and inactive subunits (3 ClpP and 5 ClpR, respectively). Evidence is presented that a sub-complex can be produced by dissociation, comprising ClpP1 and ClpR1, 2, 3 and 4, similar to the ClpR-ring described in land plants. Our Chlamydomonas ClpP preparation also contains two ClpT subunits, ClpT3 and ClpT4, which like the land plant ClpT1 and ClpT2 show 2 Clp-N domains. ClpTs are believed to function in substrate binding and/or assembly of the two heptameric rings. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that ClpT subunits have appeared independently in Chlorophycean algae, in land plants and in dispersed cyanobacterial genomes. Negative staining electron microscopy shows that the Chlamydomonas complex retains the barrel-like shape of homo-oligomeric ClpPs, with 4 additional peripheral masses that we speculate represent either the additional IS1 domain of ClpP1 (a feature unique to algae) or ClpTs or extensions of ClpR subunits
PMCID: PMC3500782  PMID: 22772861
proteolysis; chloroplast; oligomeric protein; negative staining electron microscopy
10.  Global Transcriptional Analysis of clpP Mutations of Type 2 Streptococcus pneumoniae and Their Effects on Physiology and Virulence 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(13):3508-3520.
Streptococcus pneumoniae is an important human pathogen that contains single copies of genes encoding the ClpP and FtsH ATP-dependent proteases but lacks the Lon and HslV proteases. We constructed and characterized the phenotypes of clpP, clpC, and clpX deletion replacement mutants, which lack the ClpP protease subunit or the putative ClpC or ClpX ATPase specificity factor. A ΔclpP mutant, but not a ΔclpC or ΔclpX mutant, of the virulent D39 type 2 strain of S. pneumoniae grew poorly at 30°C and failed to grow at 40°C. Despite this temperature sensitivity, transcription of the heat shock regulon determined by microarray analysis was induced in a ΔclpP mutant, which was also more sensitive to oxidative stress by H2O2 and to puromycin than its clpP+ parent strain. A ΔclpP mutant, but not a ΔclpC mutant, was strongly attenuated for virulence in the murine lung and sepsis infection models. All of these phenotypes were complemented in a ΔclpP/clpP+ merodiploid strain. Consistent with these complementation patterns, clpP was found to be in a monocistronic operon, whose transcription was induced about fivefold by heat shock in S. pneumoniae as determined by Northern and real-time reverse transcription-PCR analyses. Besides clpP, transcription of clpC, clpE, and clpL, but not clpX or ftsH, was induced by heat shock or entry into late exponential growth phase. Microarray analysis of ΔclpP mutants showed a limited change in transcription pattern (≈80 genes) consistent with these phenotypes, including repression of genes involved in oxidative stress, metal ion transport, and virulence. In addition, transcription of the early and late competence regulon was induced in the ΔclpP mutant, and competence gene expression and DNA uptake seemed to be constitutively induced throughout growth. Together, these results indicate that ClpP-mediated proteolysis plays a complex and central role in numerous pneumococcal stress responses, development of competence, and virulence.
PMCID: PMC135132  PMID: 12057945
11.  Dual stoichiometry and subunit organization in the ClpP1/P2 protease from the cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus 
Journal of Structural Biology  2015;192(3):519-527.
The Clp protease is conserved among eubacteria and most eukaryotes, and uses ATP to drive protein substrate unfolding and translocation into a chamber of sequestered proteolytic active sites. To investigate the proteolytic core of the ClpXP1/P2 protease from the cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus we have used a non-denaturing mass spectrometry approach. We show that the proteolytic core is a double ring tetradecamer consisting of an equal number of ClpP1 and ClpP2 subunits with masses of 21.70 and 23.44 kDa, respectively. Two stoichiometries are revealed for the heptameric rings: 4ClpP1 + 3ClpP2 and 3ClpP1 + 4ClpP2. When combined in the double ring the stoichiometries are (4ClpP1 + 3ClpP2) + (3ClpP1 + 4ClpP2) and 2 × (3ClpP1 + 4ClpP2) with a low population of a 2 × (4ClpP1 + 3ClpP2) tetradecamer. The assignment of the stoichiometries is confirmed by collision-induced dissociation of selected charge states of the intact heptamer and tetradecamer. Presence of the heterodimers, heterotetramers and heterohexamers, and absence of the mono-oligomers, in the mass spectra of the partially denatured protease indicates that the ring complex consists of a chain of ClpP1/ClpP2 heterodimers with the ring completed by an additional ClpP1 or ClpP2 subunit.
PMCID: PMC4673316  PMID: 26525362
Clp protease; Enzyme structure; Macromolecular protein complexes; Structural biology; Mass spectrometry (MS); Stoichiometry
12.  ClpP Modulates the Activity of the Bacillus subtilis Stress Response Transcription Factor, σB▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(17):6168-6175.
The general stress regulon of Bacillus subtilis is controlled by the activity state of σB, a transcription factor that is switched on following exposure to either physical or nutritional stress. ClpP is the proteolytic component of an ATP-dependent protease that is essential for the proper regulation of multiple adaptive responses in B. subtilis. Among the proteins whose abundance increases in ClpP− B. subtilis are several known to depend on σB for their expression. In the current work we examine the relationship of ClpP to the activity of σB. The data reveal that the loss of ClpP in otherwise wild-type B. subtilis results in a small increase in σB activity during growth and a marked enhancement of σB activity following its induction by either physical or nutritional stress. It appears to be the persistence of σB's activity rather than its induction that is principally affected by the loss of ClpP. σB-dependent reporter gene activity rose in parallel in ClpP+ and ClpP− B. subtilis strains but failed to display its normal transience in the ClpP− strain. The putative ClpP targets are likely to be stress generated and novel. Enhanced σB activity in ClpP− B. subtilis was triggered by physical stress but not by the induced synthesis of the physical stress pathway's positive regulator (RsbT). In addition, Western blot analyses failed to detect differences in the levels of the principal known σB regulators in ClpP+ and ClpP− B. subtilis strains. The data suggest a model in which ClpP facilitates the turnover of stress-generated factors, which persist in ClpP's absence to stimulate ongoing σB activity.
PMCID: PMC1951893  PMID: 17586624
13.  The antibiotic ADEP reprogrammes ClpP, switching it from a regulated to an uncontrolled protease 
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2009;1(1):37-49.
A novel class of antibiotic acyldepsipeptides (designated ADEPs) exerts its unique antibacterial activity by targeting the peptidase caseinolytic protease P (ClpP). ClpP forms proteolytic complexes with heat shock proteins (Hsp100) that select and process substrate proteins for ClpP-mediated degradation. Here, we analyse the molecular mechanism of ADEP action and demonstrate that ADEPs abrogate ClpP interaction with cooperating Hsp100 adenosine triphosphatases (ATPases). Consequently, ADEP treated bacteria are affected in ClpP-dependent general and regulatory proteolysis. At the same time, ADEPs also activate ClpP by converting it from a tightly regulated peptidase, which can only degrade short peptides, into a proteolytic machinery that recognizes and degrades unfolded polypeptides. In vivo nascent polypeptide chains represent the putative primary target of ADEP-activated ClpP, providing a rationale for the antibacterial activity of the ADEPs. Thus, ADEPs cause a complete functional reprogramming of the Clp–protease complex.
PMCID: PMC3378108  PMID: 20049702
ADEP; antibiotic; ClpP; Hsp100; Clp proteins; proteolysis
14.  The ClgR Protein Regulates Transcription of the clpP Operon in Bifidobacterium breve UCC 2003†  
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(24):8411-8426.
Five clp genes (clpC, clpB, clpP1, clpP2, and clpX), representing chaperone- and protease-encoding genes, were previously identified in Bifidobacterium breve UCC 2003. In the present study, we characterize the B. breve UCC 2003 clpP locus, which consists of two paralogous genes, designated clpP1 and clpP2, whose deduced protein products display significant similarity to characterized ClpP peptidases. Transcriptional analyses showed that the clpP1 and clpP2 genes are transcribed in response to moderate heat shock as a bicistronic unit with a single promoter. The role of a clgR homologue, known to control the regulation of clpP gene expression in Streptomyces lividans and Corynebacterium glutamicum, was investigated by gel mobility shift assays and DNase I footprint experiments. We show that ClgR, which in its purified form appears to exist as a dimer, requires a proteinaceous cofactor to assist in specific binding to a 30-bp region of the clpP promoter region. In pull-down experiments, a 56-kDa protein copurified with ClgR, providing evidence that the two proteins also interact in vivo and that the copurified protein represents the cofactor required for ClgR activity. The prediction of the ClgR three-dimensional structure provides further insights into the binding mode of this protein to the clpP1 promoter region and highlights the key amino acid residues believed to be involved in the protein-DNA interaction.
PMCID: PMC1317013  PMID: 16321946
15.  Mycobacterium tuberculosis ClpP Proteases Are Co-transcribed but Exhibit Different Substrate Specificities 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60228.
Caseinolytic (Clp) proteases are widespread energy-dependent proteases; the functional ATP-dependent protease is comprised of multimers of proteolytic and regulatory subunits. Mycobacterium tuberculosis has two ClpP proteolytic subunits (ClpP1 and ClpP2), with both being essential for growth in vitro. ClpP1 and clpP2 are arranged in an apparent operon; we demonstrated that the two genes are co-expressed under normal growth conditions. We identified a single promoter region for the clpP1P2 operon; no promoter was detected upstream of clpP2 demonstrating that independent expression of clpP1 and clpP2 was highly unlikely. Promoter activity was not induced by heat shock or oxidative stress. We identified a regulatory region upstream of the promoter with a consensus sequence matching the ClgR regulator motif; we determined the limits of the region by mutagenesis and confirmed that positive regulation of the promoter occurs in M. tuberculosis. We developed a reporter system to monitor ClpP1 and ClpP2 enzymatic activities based on LacZ incorporating ssrAtag sequences. We showed that whilst both ClpP1 and ClpP2 degrade SsrA-tagged LacZ, ClpP2 (but not ClpP1) degrades untagged proteins. Our data suggest that the two proteolytic subunits display different substrate specificities and therefore have different, but overlapping roles in M. tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC3613350  PMID: 23560081
16.  Target Mechanism-Based Whole-Cell Screening Identifies Bortezomib as an Inhibitor of Caseinolytic Protease in Mycobacteria 
mBio  2015;6(3):e00253-15.
A novel type of antibacterial screening method, a target mechanism-based whole-cell screening method, was developed to combine the advantages of target mechanism- and whole-cell-based approaches. A mycobacterial reporter strain with a synthetic phenotype for caseinolytic protease (ClpP1P2) activity was engineered, allowing the detection of inhibitors of this enzyme inside intact bacilli. A high-throughput screening method identified bortezomib, a human 26S proteasome drug, as a potent inhibitor of ClpP1P2 activity and bacterial growth. A battery of secondary assays was employed to demonstrate that bortezomib indeed exerts its antimicrobial activity via inhibition of ClpP1P2: Down- or upmodulation of the intracellular protease level resulted in hyper- or hyposensitivity of the bacteria, the drug showed specific potentiation of translation error-inducing aminoglycosides, ClpP1P2-specific substrate WhiB1 accumulated upon exposure, and growth inhibition potencies of bortezomib derivatives correlated with ClpP1P2 inhibition potencies. Furthermore, molecular modeling showed that the drug can bind to the catalytic sites of ClpP1P2. This work demonstrates the feasibility of target mechanism-based whole-cell screening, provides chemical validation of ClpP1P2 as a target, and identifies a drug in clinical use as a new lead compound for tuberculosis therapy.
During the last decade, antibacterial drug discovery relied on biochemical assays, rather than whole-cell approaches, to identify molecules that interact with purified target proteins derived by genomics. This approach failed to deliver antibacterial compounds with whole-cell activity, either because of cell permeability issues that medicinal chemistry cannot easily fix or because genomic data of essentiality insufficiently predicted the vulnerability of the target identified. As a consequence, the field largely moved back to a whole-cell approach whose main limitation is its black-box nature, i.e., that it requires trial-and-error chemistry because the cellular target is unknown. We developed a novel type of antibacterial screening method, target mechanism-based whole-cell screening, to combine the advantages of both approaches. We engineered a mycobacterial reporter strain with a synthetic phenotype allowing us to identify inhibitors of the caseinolytic protease (ClpP1P2) inside the cell. This approach identified bortezomib, an anticancer drug, as a specific inhibitor of ClpP1P2. We further confirmed the specific “on-target” activity of bortezomib by independent approaches including, but not limited to, genetic manipulation of the target level (over- and underexpressing strains) and by establishing a dynamic structure-activity relationship between ClpP1P2 and growth inhibition. Identifying an “on-target” compound is critical to optimize the efficacy of the compound without compromising its specificity. This work demonstrates the feasibility of target mechanism-based whole-cell screening methods, validates ClpP1P2 as a druggable target, and delivers a lead compound for tuberculosis therapy.
PMCID: PMC4436076  PMID: 25944857
17.  The asymmetry in the mature amino-terminus of ClpP facilitates a local symmetry match in ClpAP and ClpXP complexes 
Journal of structural biology  2005;153(2):113-128.
ClpP is a self-compartmentalized proteolytic assembly comprised of two, stacked, heptameric rings that, when associated with its cognate hexameric ATPase (ClpA or ClpX), form the ClpAP and ClpXP ATP-dependent protease, respectively. The symmetry mismatch is an absolute feature of this large energy-dependent protease and also of the proteasome, which shares a similar barrel-shaped architecture, but how it is accommodated within the complex has yet to be understood, despite recent structural investigations, due in part to the conformational lability of the N-termini. We present the structures of Escherichia coli ClpP to 1.9 Å and an inactive variant that provide some clues for how this might be achieved. In the wild type protein, the highly conserved N-terminal 20 residues can be grouped into two major structural classes. In the first, a loop formed by residues 10–15 protrudes out of the central access channel extending ∼ 12–15 Å from the surface of the oligomer resulting in the closing of the access channel observed in one ring. Similar loops are implied to be exclusively observed in human ClpP and a variant of ClpP from Streptococcus pneumoniae. In the other ring, a second class of loop is visible in the structure of wt ClpP from E. coli that forms closer to residue 16 and faces toward the interior of the molecule creating an open conformation of the access channel. In both classes, residues 18–20 provide a conserved interaction surface. In the inactive variant, a third class of N-terminal conformation is observed, which arises from a conformational change in the position of F17. We have performed a detailed functional analysis on each of the first 20 amino acid residues of ClpP. Residues that extend beyond the plane of the molecule (10–15) have a lesser effect on ATPase interaction than those lining the pore (1–7 and 16–20). Based upon our structure–function analysis, we present a model to explain the widely disparate effects of individual residues on ClpP–ATPase complex formation and also a possible functional reason for this mismatch.
PMCID: PMC4377234  PMID: 16406682
ClpP; ClpAP; ClpXP; Symmetry mismatch; 26S proteasome; Energy-dependent proteolysis
18.  Regulation of Host Hemoglobin Binding by the Staphylococcus aureus Clp Proteolytic System 
Journal of Bacteriology  2013;195(22):5041-5050.
Protein turnover is a key process for bacterial survival mediated by intracellular proteases. Proteolytic degradation reduces the levels of unfolded and misfolded peptides that accumulate in the cell during stress conditions. Three intracellular proteases, ClpP, HslV, and FtsH, have been identified in the Gram-positive bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, a pathogen responsible for significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. Consistent with their crucial role in protein turnover, ClpP, HslV, and FtsH affect a number of cellular processes, including metabolism, stress responses, and virulence. The ClpP protease is believed to be the principal degradation machinery in S. aureus. This study sought to identify the effect of the Clp protease on the iron-regulated surface determinant (Isd) system, which extracts heme-iron from host hemoglobin during infection and is critical to S. aureus pathogenesis. Inactivation of components of the Clp protease alters abundance of several Isd proteins, including the hemoglobin receptor IsdB. Furthermore, the observed changes in IsdB abundance are the result of transcriptional regulation, since transcription of isdB is decreased by clpP or clpX inactivation. In contrast, inactivation of clpC enhances isdB transcription and protein abundance. Loss of clpP or clpX impairs host hemoglobin binding and utilization and results in severe virulence defects in a systemic mouse model of infection. These findings suggest that the Clp proteolytic system is important for regulating nutrient iron acquisition in S. aureus. The Clp protease and Isd complex are widely conserved in bacteria; therefore, these data reveal a novel Clp-dependent regulation pathway that may be present in other bacterial pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3811588  PMID: 23995637
19.  Acyldepsipeptide Antibiotics Induces the Formation of a Structured Axial Channel in ClpP: a Model for the ClpX/ClpA Bound State of ClpP 
Chemistry & biology  2010;17(9):959-969.
In ClpXP and ClpAP complexes, ClpA and ClpX use the energy of ATP hydrolysis to unfold proteins and translocate them into the self-compartmentalized ClpP protease. ClpP requires the ATPases to degrade folded or unfolded substrates, but binding of acyldepsipeptide antibiotics (ADEPs) to ClpP bypasses this requirement with unfolded proteins. We present the crystal structure of Escherichia coli ClpP bound to ADEP1 and report the structural changes underlying ClpP activation. ADEP1 binds in the hydrophobic groove that serves as the primary docking site for ClpP ATPases. Binding of ADEP1 locks the N-terminal loops of ClpP in a β-hairpin conformation, generating a stable pore through which extended polypeptides can be threaded. This structure serves as a model for ClpP in the holo-enzyme ClpAP and ClpXP complexes and provides critical information to further develop this class of antibiotics.
PMCID: PMC2955292  PMID: 20851345
ClpP; ADEP; ClpAP; ClpXP; Axial channel; ATP-independent proteolysis
20.  Validation of the Essential ClpP Protease in Mycobacterium tuberculosis as a Novel Drug Target 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(3):663-668.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a pathogen of major global importance. Validated drug targets are required in order to develop novel therapeutics for drug-resistant strains and to shorten therapy. The Clp protease complexes provide a means for quality control of cellular proteins; the proteolytic activity of ClpP in concert with the ATPase activity of the ClpX/ClpC subunits results in degradation of misfolded or damaged proteins. Thus, the Clp system plays a major role in basic metabolism, as well as in stress responses and pathogenic mechanisms. M. tuberculosis has two ClpP proteolytic subunits. Here we demonstrate that ClpP1 is essential for viability in this organism in culture, since the gene could only be deleted from the chromosome when a second functional copy was provided. Overexpression of clpP1 had no effect on growth in aerobic culture or viability under anaerobic conditions or during nutrient starvation. In contrast, clpP2 overexpression was toxic, suggesting different roles for the two homologs. We synthesized known activators of ClpP protease activity; these acyldepsipeptides (ADEPs) were active against M. tuberculosis. ADEP activity was enhanced by the addition of efflux pump inhibitors, demonstrating that ADEPs gain access to the cell but that export occurs. Taken together, the genetic and chemical validation of ClpP as a drug target leads to new avenues for drug discovery.
PMCID: PMC3264079  PMID: 22123255
21.  A ClpP protein model as tuberculosis target for screening marine compounds 
Bioinformation  2010;4(9):405-408.
ATP-dependent Clp protease (ClpP) is a core unit of a major bacterial protease complex employing as a new attractive drug target for that isolates, which are resistant to antibiotics. Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a gram-positive bacterium, is one of the major causes of hospital acquired infections. ClpP in Mycobacterium tuberculosis is usually tightly regulated and strictly requires a member of the family of Clp-ATPase and often further accessory proteins for proteolytic activation. Inhibition of ClpP eliminates these safeguards and start proteolytic degradation. Such uncontrolled proteolysis leads to inhibition of bacterial cell division and eventually cell death. In order to inhibit Clp protease, at first three dimensional structure model of ClpP in Mycobacterium tuberculosis was determined by comparative homology modeling program MODELLER based on crystal structure of the proteolytic component of the caseinolytic Clp protease (ClpP) from E. coli as a template protein and has 55%sequence identity with ClpP protein. The computed model's energy was minimized and validated using PROCHECK to obtain a stable model structure and is submitted in Protein Model Database (PMDB-ID: PM0075741). Stable model was further used for virtual screening against marine derived bioactive compound database through molecular docking studies using AutoDock 3.05. The docked complexes were validated and enumerated based on the AutoDock Scoring function to pick out the best marine inhibitors based on docked Energy. Thus from the entire 186 Marine compounds which were Docked, we got best 5 of them with optimal docked Energy (Ara-A: -14.31 kcal/mol, Dysinosin C: - 14.90kcal/mol, Nagelamide A: -20.49 kcal/mol, Strobilin: -8.02 kcal/mol, Manoalide: -8.81 kcal/mol). Further the five best-docked complexes were analyzed through Python Molecular Viewer software for their interaction studies. Thus from the Complex scoring and binding ability its deciphered that these Marine compounds could be promising inhibitors for ClpP as Drug target yet pharmacological studies have to confirm it.
PMCID: PMC2951636  PMID: 20975890
Homology Modeling; Docking; ClpP; M.tuberculosis; AutoDock; Modeller; Procheck; Tuberculosis; AutoDockTools; Clp protease
22.  Clp and Lon Proteases Occupy Distinct Subcellular Positions in Bacillus subtilis▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2008;190(20):6758-6768.
Among other functions, ATP-dependent proteases degrade misfolded proteins and remove several key regulatory proteins necessary to activate stress responses. In Bacillus subtilis, ClpX, ClpE, and ClpC form homohexameric ATPases that couple to the ClpP peptidase. To understand where these peptidases and ATPases localize in living cells, each protein was fused to a fluorescent moiety. We found that ClpX-GFP (green fluorescent protein) and ClpP-GFP localized as focal assemblies in areas that were not occupied by the nucleoid. We found that the percentage of cells with ClpP-GFP foci increased following heat shock independently of protein synthesis. We determined that ClpE-YFP (yellow fluorescent protein) and ClpC-YFP formed foci coincident with nucleoid edges, usually near cell poles. Furthermore, we found that ClpQ-YFP (HslV) localized as small foci, usually positioned near the cell membrane. We found that ClpQ-YFP foci were dependent on the presence of the cognate hexameric ATPase ClpY (HslU). Moreover, we found that LonA-GFP is coincident with the nucleoid during normal growth and that LonA-GFP also localized to the forespore during development. We also investigated LonB-GFP and found that this protein localized to the forespore membrane early in development, followed by localization throughout the forespore later in development. Our comprehensive study has shown that in B. subtilis several ATP-fueled proteases occupy distinct subcellular locations. With these data, we suggest that substrate specificity could be determined, in part, by the spatial and temporal organization of proteases in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2566193  PMID: 18689473
23.  Regulation of Cyclic Lipopeptide Biosynthesis in Pseudomonas fluorescens by the ClpP Protease▿ † 
Journal of Bacteriology  2008;191(6):1910-1923.
Cyclic lipopeptides produced by Pseudomonas species exhibit potent surfactant and broad-spectrum antibiotic properties. Their biosynthesis is governed by large multimodular nonribosomal peptide synthetases, but little is known about the genetic regulatory network. This study provides, for the first time, evidence that the serine protease ClpP regulates the biosynthesis of massetolides, cyclic lipopeptides involved in swarming motility, biofilm formation, and antimicrobial activity of Pseudomonas fluorescens SS101. The results show that ClpP affects the expression of luxR(mA), the transcriptional regulator of the massetolide biosynthesis genes massABC, thereby regulating biofilm formation and swarming motility of P. fluorescens SS101. Transcription of luxR(mA) was significantly repressed in the clpP mutant, and introduction of luxR(mA) restored, in part, massetolide biosynthesis and swarming motility of the clpP mutant. Site-directed mutagenesis and expression analyses indicated that the chaperone subunit ClpX and the Lon protease are not involved in regulation of massetolide biosynthesis and are transcribed independently of clpP. Addition of Casamino Acids enhanced the transcription of luxR(mA) and massABC in the clpP mutant, leading to a partial rescue of massetolide production and swarming motility. The results further suggested that, at the transcriptional level, ClpP-mediated regulation of massetolide biosynthesis operates independently of regulation by the GacA/GacS two-component system. The role of amino acid metabolism and the putative mechanisms underlying ClpP-mediated regulation of cyclic lipopeptide biosynthesis, swarming motility, and growth in P. fluorescens are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2648375  PMID: 19114474
24.  The ClpP N-terminus coordinates substrate access with protease active site reactivity 
Biochemistry  2008;47(42):11031-11040.
Energy-dependent protein degradation machines, such as the E. coli protease ClpAP, require regulated interactions between the ATPase component (ClpA) and the protease component (ClpP) for function. Recent studies indicate that the ClpP N-terminus is essential in these interactions, yet the dynamics of this region remain unclear. Here, we use synchrotron hydroxyl radical footprinting and kinetic studies to characterize functionally important conformational changes of the ClpP N-terminus. Footprinting experiments show that the ClpP N-terminus becomes more solvent-exposed upon interaction with ClpA. In the absence of ClpA, deletion of the ClpP N-terminus increases the initial degradation rate of large peptide substrates 5–15 fold. Unlike ClpAP, ClpPΔN exhibits a distinct slow phase of product formation that is eliminated by the addition of hydroxylamine, suggesting that truncation of the N-terminus leads to stabilization of the acyl-enzyme intermediate. These results indicate that 1) the ClpP N-terminus acts as a “gate” controlling substrate access to the active sites, 2) binding of ClpA opens this “gate”, allowing substrate entry and formation of the acyl-enzyme intermediate, and 3) closing of the N-terminal “gate” stimulates acyl-enzyme hydrolysis.
PMCID: PMC2920337  PMID: 18816064
25.  The Clp Proteases of Bacillus subtilis Are Directly Involved in Degradation of Misfolded Proteins 
Journal of Bacteriology  2000;182(11):3259-3265.
The presence of the heat stress response-related ATPases ClpC and ClpX or the peptidase ClpP in the cell is crucial for tolerance of many forms of stress in Bacillus subtilis. Assays for detection of defects in protein degradation suggest that ClpC, ClpP, and ClpX participate directly in overall proteolysis of misfolded proteins. Turnover rates for abnormal puromycyl peptides are significantly decreased in clpC, clpP, and clpX mutant cells. Electron-dense aggregates, most likely due to the accumulation of misfolded proteins, were noticed in studies of ultrathin cryosections in clpC and clpP mutant cells even under nonstress conditions. In contrast, in the wild type or clpX mutants such aggregates could only be observed after heat shock. This phenomenon supports the assumption that clpC and clpP mutants are deficient in the ability to solubilize or degrade damaged and aggregated proteins, the accumulation of which is toxic for the cell. By using immunogold labeling with antibodies raised against ClpC, ClpP, and ClpX, the Clp proteins were localized in these aggregates, showing that the Clp proteins act at this level in vivo.
PMCID: PMC94515  PMID: 10809708

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