AAA+ Atpases

Redox regulation of Lon protease

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Science  21 Nov 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6212, pp. 961
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6212.961-f

Bacteria and other organisms use so-called AAA+ proteases to degrade cytosolic proteins. The Lon protease is the main protease used by bacteria to degrade damaged or misfolded cytosolic proteins, which can be toxic to the cell. Both too much and too little Lon protease activity is bad for survival. Nishii et al. asked how cells keep Lon activity levels just right. By examining the crystal structure of Lon from Escherichia coli they identified conserved cysteine residues that acted as a redox switch. The exit pore changed in size depending on whether the bacteria were growing in the presence or absence of oxygen: Reducing its size decreased products from passing through the pore and therefore the activity of the enzyme.

Nat. Chem. Biol. 10.1038/nchembio.1688 (2014).

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